AHMED SINDI & MOHAMMED BIN ABDULAZIZ ALHAKBANI

Saudi Arabia 2021 | TELECOMS & IT | B2B

With telecoms infrastructure becoming increasingly critical to keep everyone connected, having a robust and stable telecoms infrastructure in Saudi Arabia is necessary for the survival of communities and economies.

Ahmed Sindi
AHMED SINDI
CEO
Dawiyat
Mohammed bin Abdulaziz Alhakbani
MOHAMMED BIN ABDULAZIZ ALHAKBANI
CEO
TAWAL

How has COVID-19 accelerated change in new areas for you?

AHMED SINDI Dawiyat is now moving at full speed on IoT and IoT services. We are also forging ahead with building our Riyadh data center. There is demand for certain upper-class data center quality that is robust, efficient in providing cooling services and security services, and uses energy efficiently. Our data center is much more efficient than smaller data centers, and we are providing services that are of interest to international OTTs in addition to robust interest in cloud services. We also see demand for 5G backhauling and increased home demand. When operators realized they need fiber backhaul for 5G deployment, we started seeing a demand for fiber to support the country's 5G network rollout. We participated in a healthy way and in an enabling manner to these other technologies and applications that have been accelerated by the onslaught of COVID-19.

MOHAMMED BIN ABDULAZIZ ALHAKBANI IoT and 5G will play significant roles in paving the way for TAWAL. The pandemic revealed a massive need for data. There will be a combination of wireless plus wired coverage to fulfill the needs of customers. We need to be positioned well across the country, mainly because backhauling is necessary for the successful rollout of 5G. TAWAL has already supported its clients' rollout of around 3,000 5G sites in 2020, and another 3,000-plus 5G rollout is planned in 2021 to enable us to offer enhanced network availability, lower costs, and higher efficiency. Through the rollout, we have learned a tremendous amount about the requirements of 5G, which will help us achieve our aim of becoming a one-stop shop that offers complete end-to-end solutions.

What is your strategy for the sector?

AS We have obtained a virtual IoT operator's license, and with that we have been fairly active in pursuing solutions from Nokia, Huawei, and others. We are selecting in a competitive process from top international vendors around the world and will eventually end up with one of them. We see significantly more interest now from real estate developers and others who want to see an IoT player like Dawiyat that is neutral. Dawiyat plays a truly unique role in that it treats all operators the same. When we go into a new city development, we are extremely interested in building towers to be leased to multiple operators. The city development trusts us as a neutral body to build the model tower within the city and rent this out to all operators. The city does not have to worry that we will treat operators differently.

MBAA TAWAL was established in early 2019 on three pillars: enabling operators to enrich communication needs for their customers; accelerating new technologies such as 5G and IoT; and driving MNOs, government entities, and the private sector to operate more efficiently and make a positive impact on society and communities. At the same time, there are multiple towers adjacent to each other in Saudi Arabia, which is inefficient. Over the past year, we have recruited highly skilled individuals and experts from various industries to bring different expertise to our offering and ensure a lean organization that could serve our customers' needs. We defined our go-to-market model in terms of the products we want to introduce. We have three main products: built to suit, co-location, and operational maintenance. We signed a strategic deal with one of the operators, offering our co-location services and building systems, processes, and governance models. We are now autonomous and are approaching other operators.

What are your expectations for the company in the next 12 months?

AS We expect to continue growing our usual business and see the areas of IoT, data centers, 5G backhauling, and fiber to home. Dawiyat came up with extremely creative solutions for the ministry and CITC on how we can offer competitive services to rural areas. These are some of the things we are doing and investing in and expect to see excellent results in terms of offering these services.

MBAA We are in line with our revenue targets and pursuing diversification of revenue via the introduction of adjacent products, i.e., IBS. In terms of operational indicators, we are overachieving on all of them and our network availability has grown from 99.7% in 2019 to 99.9%, exceeding the set targets. At face value, the pandemic was challenging, but we saw it as an opportunity. With 5G becoming a necessity, TAWAL will play a significant and prominent role in the future as a tower company.