In the framework of MWC 2021, Olayan M. Alwetaid, stc Group CEO, shares, in an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, the role that the Saudi operator has been playing and what made it become a well-recognized ICT brand. He also highlighted stc’s sustainability strategy and its commitment to the environment. 5G was also discussed in depth during the interview.
stc has quickly become a huge name and recognized brand in ICT, what have you been doing to make such an impact?
We are proud to be among the top 44 digital companies in the world and the most powerful telecommunications company in the Middle East .The best way to understand how we became one of the most influential brands in Saudi Arabia is to look to the essence of who we are. stc since its inception has been building itself to be where it is. Our vision is providing innovative services and platforms to our customers while enabling the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia.
The work we’ve been doing in Saudi Arabia and other markets has been incredibly well received by industry experts, as well as our customers, which is incredibly pleasing. We are quickly building a very strong reputation for our digital services, which is pivotal in helping the brand to continue to grow at the rate it has. At stc, we want people to see the value in our digital services and so we are intent to providing the best possible digital experience. We have a duty to provide our nation with the digital infrastructure to enable it to reach its Vision 2030 ambitions. The objectives of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 is to become the heart of the Arab world as well as becoming a global investment powerhouse and a digital hub connecting it to the rest of the planet , and that’s where stc comes in. We are the brand that is going to be showcasing KSAs digital transformation to the rest of the world.
We at stc are responsible for building the foundations on which the new-look digital Saudi Arabia will be built upon. The Kingdom will be relying on this digital transformation to help all industries, enterprises, pubic services and retail to become a world-leading hub and will boom economically. We know the expectations of the Saudi government and we’re proud to be the brand that will be associated with the country’s future successes. As a brand we are expanding our operation and have been investing in numerous emerging technologies such as 5G, IoT, cloud, AI, robotics, and data analytics. We already investing heavily in these areas and in have plans to continue well into the future.
As a brand stc has had a lot of success with our newer digital platforms, stcPay and stcPlay. These are the result of a lot of hard work and dedication, which has elevated our company into a major player in other regions around the world. In particular, stcPay is changing the habits of our customers and making life a whole lot easier. A great example is the partnership with Western Union that helped stcPay achieve unicorn status, and already valued over $1 billion, which in itself is an incredible achievement. The biggest advantage of the partnership has been that our customers have been able to directly transfer funds to over 200 countries around the world. We are now working with regulators in other regions to continue the expansion of the platform and providing an even better service to our customers.
stc is disrupting its services going beyond telecom. What measures are you taking to ensure the company is operating sustainability?
stc is improving the lives and business opportunities across Saudi Arabia and in the region. One of the core aspects of our business is ensuring we are operating as eco-friendly as possible and we are continuously working to improve the ways in which we can be more sustainable. Every employee at stc knows about the framework we have in place where we drive home the message of acting with integrity at all times, monitoring our environmental impact and making sure that we always care for our environment. We know that a company of our size and statue has a duty to do its bit for the environment and we’re confident that by going digital we can drastically reduce any harmful effects on the environment, especially as KSA is going through a huge transitional period in its history.
We are completely transparent with our sustainability records and we have detailed annual reports, which are available for anyone to read. This is part of our drive to be as open and transparent as possible with our customers and our stakeholders. We pride ourselves on limiting our environmental footprint and will continue to publish our findings so they are always available in the public domain. We use the framework to improve our operations and performance. In developing the framework, we took account of the interests of our key stakeholders, national and regional strategic visions, and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs).
5G technology is playing a big part in the transformation of Saudi Arabia. Can you tell us more about how it’s been received?
5G is going to be the major protagonist in the success of stc. The future of Saudi Arabia relies heavily on the Kingdom having a digital infrastructure that can deliver the highest standards of digital connectivity and for that to be a success only the best 5G technology will suffice. Already in KSA over a million people are connected to our 5G network and are enjoying digital technology like never before. Since rolling out MENA’s first 5G network two years ago, we have been constantly expanding our 5G network in a bid to make it available for everyone in KSA. We’re delighted to say that both public and private sectors are now benefiting from our advancements in technology and we’re on the right path in delivering outstanding connectivity to the whole of Saudi Arabia.
5G will completely change the way in which people consume digital in the years to come. You can imagine what an impact that will have on Saudi Arabia. As a brand, 5G allows us to develop new platforms such as stcPlay which is our new gaming platform that gives gamers a place to play and connect like never before. Streaming is seamless and you no longer have to wait to download series or movies to your device. This is just one of the exciting elements, 5G has the power to fundamentally change the way in which people consume digital products and services, it’s a very exciting time to be involved in the telecommunications industry.
Sectors such as agriculture, manufacturing, health and logistics will all benefit from 5G technology.