EXCEL IN DATA

Saudi Arabia 2014 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

Where does Saudi Arabia fit in Zain's regional strategy?

Hassan Ameen Kabbani
BIOGRAPHY
Hassan Ameen Kabbani has accumulated 23 years of senior executive telecommunications experience in the Middle East and Africa. He has successfully led five telecommunications operations as CEO. Before joining Zain in September 2013, he was the Advisor to the Chairman and Board Member of Oger Telecom as well as a Board Member of Cell C in South Africa. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Business Marketing from the Lebanese American University (LAU) followed by several graduate executive programs from INSEAD and ESA.

Where does Saudi Arabia fit in Zain's regional strategy?

Saudi Arabia is one of the most important markets for Zain Group, from both a volume and value perspective. Today, after five years of operations, we are proud to serve 8.5 million subscribers each and every day. From a revenues perspective, we are the largest operating company in Zain Group, although we have by far the lowest market share in Saudi Arabia. This makes Saudi Arabia the biggest growth opportunity within the Group. We were fortunate to start our operations in Saudi Arabia with the latest in mobile telecommunications technology. In fact, we were awarded the first mobile telecommunications license in Saudi Arabia that allowed the use of 4G mobile technology.

How do you plan to build on the progress Zain has seen here in order to push the company forward in the coming years?

The way that we communicate continues to change. Today, our customers make more use of smartphones, apps, and our fast data network than ever before. We live in a rapidly changing world, where advances in technology have enabled us all to communicate more often, in a radically different way than before. Zain plays a vital part in enabling this communications revolution. Critical to our success is that we offer our customers the best possible customer experience and that our customers genuinely perceive that we care. Our customers continue to rely more and more on our services to keep in touch with their family and friends, as well as be a source of information and entertainment. We understand that mobile data communication is uniquely relevant in Saudi Arabia, and in response to our customer's demands, we have optimized our network to provide a best-in-class user experience when accessing social networking sites and streaming video services, such as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube.

What about Arab-language content and the creation of applications in the country?

In the Saudi Arabian market, we believe we have to preserve our culture. We would like to adapt all the applications and services of the world to our local culture to preserve our Saudi Arabian identity. This is what we will be doing, and I believe that the country can be an important generator of Arabic and Islamic content. By having the correct telecommunications infrastructure, mobile services will extend into banking, media, television, agriculture, education, and health.

Where do you hope to take Zain by the end of your tenure?

Each time we reach a milestone, we think that we have made enough progress, only to then discover that there is more to be achieved. A telecommunications operator is an enabler; whatever the country needs and whatever Saudi Arabian citizens need, it is our duty to provide it. Saudi Arabia is number one in terms of Twitter users globally, and we have 90 million views on YouTube per day originating here. This places us under pressure to deal with such colossal growing demand.

How has mobile telephony changed?

I am proud of the fact that since the first cellular telephone call on April 3, 1973, this industry has grown to support over 7 billion connections, approximately one for every inhabitant on the planet. During this time, I have seen the industry evolve into the dynamic customer experience centric-environment it is today. As mobile operators, we all have access to the same technology as our competition, we excel in the way we delight our customers, and provide the best-in-class voice, data, and video mobile communications.