Saudi Arabia 2017 | TELECOMS & IT | B2B

As smaller, more innovative firms shake up the market with better offers and more competitive prices, whilst customers benefit.

Fouad Halawi
Virgin Mobile KSA
Ahmed Abou doma

How are you positioned in terms of the market, and what is your growth strategy?

FOUAD HALAWI The potential for growth is always present. We generally assess market share by looking at several different sources and indexes. Growth is forecasted in the market, and new regulations have had both positive and negative effects on our business and the market in general; however, we have chosen to view the changes as opportunities and are positioning ourselves accordingly. A change in management and a new vision for the structure of the business, including being the first MVNO on the market and bringing new speed and agility to our operations, has had a large impact. Between December 2015 and June 2016, Virgin Mobile KSA added an additional 1.5 million customers, taking its user base to 2.5 million and pushing the established operators hard. It has been a staggering success and has changed the way operators, the industry, regulators, and investors look at the potential of the KSA telecom market. We invest a great deal of time into developing growth strategies and are witnessing the impact of that. We are committed to operating within the market with a great deal of agility; all of our internal processes allow us to react to changes rapidly and effectively, such are the advantages of an MVNO. This has been one of the major reasons why we were so successful in 2016.

AHMED ABOU DOMA In May 2017, we were brought on to equip the first smart city in Saudi Arabia, in Yanbu. This is part of our contribution to Vision 2030 and is the first of five smart cities that the government wants to build over the next five years. We have started another smart city in King Abdullah Economic City. That is an example of the foundation we have built for the next phase of development in this country. Initiatives like data center developments and rollouts, smart city developments, and smart Hajj solutions are our focus. We have been part of a consortium that won a bid to deliver ICT services to the Council of Cooperative Health Insurance (CCHI). We are going to deliver the platform that will link medical service providers, pharmacies, insurance companies, and patients; they are all going to be connected digitally, which will provide convenience of use and avoid any fraud.

What trends do you see in regards to regulation of market dynamics and requirements?

FH It is in the best interest of firms to disrupt the market in a positive way, to try and get the best prices for customers. By focusing on niche markets that the larger, more established telecoms firms have neglected to service appropriately, we have the ability to expand our market share, and thus position ourselves as a very unique service provider with best-of-breed technology. However, regulations in Saudi Arabia are still evolving so we can see some regulatory improvement to allow MVNOs to have more flexibility and balanced competitive-edge operations. They are more agile, more nimble, and more willing to take risks. MVNOs are also accelerating the digital transformation in Saudi Arabia; we at Virgin Mobile Saudi are looking into digitizing our sales channels, member care, and billing as we see those as three main areas that will help in transforming the industry digitally in the short term.

AA Everywhere in the world data services are rising, while voice services are declining. We have to cater to that and take into consideration that this is one of the most data-savvy markets in the world. Customer satisfaction here is typically shaped by the data usage experience, not by the voice experience. Financial services are going to come to this market, but this is the largest economy in the region, and if mobile financial services are allowed to come in, there is going to be a huge opportunity for all players. SMEs are another growing line of business, and SMEs in the market in this country are underserved.