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Over the past few years, Zain KSA has pursued a qualitative investment strategy to achieve three main objectives: deepen innovation and modernization in the national telecommunications sector; promote the best user experience through a bundle of integrated digital solutions and services; and maximize the use of advanced infrastructure to enhance the growth and development of emerging digital sectors.

Based on 5G technology and with many outstanding achievements in its portfolio, the company’s trajectory has been characterized by an upward performance on the financial and operational levels, aspiring to foster and apply advanced governance and financial efficiency standards, boost the quality of services, and deliver value to customers and investors.

To this end, Zain KSA’s CEO, Eng. Sultan bin Abdulaziz AlDeghaither, stated that the company’s strategic direction has immensely contributed to cementing its pivotal role in fulfilling a comprehensive digital transformation process and evolving the ICT sector in the Kingdom. It has also attracted the development of the technology sector to reinforce its presence in the Kingdom and support the implementation of Saudi Vision 2030 objectives.

With every achievement, we hear about Zain KSA’s contribution to achieving the Saudi Vision 2030 objectives. How can you relate this to your strategic direction?

Saudi Vision 2030 charts the course for the Kingdom’s economic and social growth. In addition to being a source of pride for us as Saudis and an embodiment of our ambitions and aspirations, it is a compass for our business and investments. Therefore, we at Zain KSA are committed to supporting the efforts of our wise leadership to achieve the goals of Saudi Vision 2030 for comprehensive digital transformation. As a national company, we confirm our unwavering commitment to influence a digital, knowledge-based economy and a smart society, to develop and diversify economic growth and enable a prosperous and healthy lifestyle, thus increasing the Kingdom’s rankings at all levels. From a broader perspective, our strategy and innovative services and solutions support Saudi Vision 2030’s three pillars: a vibrant society, a thriving economy, and an ambitious nation. At Zain KSA, we have been playing an active role in supporting Saudi Vision 2030; here, I would like to give a few examples which illustrate our contributions to this vital national endeavor. Under the Thriving Economy theme, we are committed to raising the localization of the ICT sector and the contribution of women in leadership positions in one of the Kingdom’s vital non-oil GDP sectors. We created a series of initiatives, such as the Evolve Program and Women in Tech initiative, to hire, train, mentor and empower our local young women and men and equip them with the best environment where they can thrive. We support the Kingdom’s economic diversification growth with our contributions. We launched Tamam, the Kingdom’s first microfinance Fintech, which is aligned with the Kingdom’s Financial Sector Development Program. As for the Vibrant Society theme, we are working to improve the quality and accessibility of digital services to enhance a fulfilling life and provide entertainment options that align with our national values and culture. We develop our digital services to support all of life’s needs, especially those related to healthcare and social welfare. Under the Ambitious Nation theme, we are proud to be guided by our Saudi leadership’s aspirations and vision in all that we do. Our ambitious national responsibility pushes us to contribute to the Kingdom’s transformation into a global, competitive ICT hub. We strive to be environmentally sustainable, as part of our company’s strategy, and I am confident that we are serving our nation, our people and our leadership.

You mentioned that Saudi Vision 2030 is a compass for your business and investments. Give us an overview of the most prominent titles under the direction of “Zain KSA”?

Today, Zain KSA has become more than just a telecom company. It is the digital solution provider of choice for individuals and the business sector and a reliable partner of the Kingdom’s Giga projects. Our directions are rooted in expanding our quality investments to stimulate an integrated digital infrastructure and develop 5G technology and its applications in the Kingdom. In the past, our perseverance to achieve this has been highly evident. Today, we crown our technical capabilities through enabling individuals, the business sector and government agencies by providing one of the most technologically advanced 5G networks in the region. This has formed a strong foundation for offering a variety of future digital applications and solutions, as well as advanced cloud computing services through Zain Cloud. As a pioneering digital solutions provider, especially at the fintech level, we launched Tamam Financing. Tamam is the first company to be issued a license for micro-financing in the Kingdom from the Saudi Central Bank (SAMA). This is in addition to our commitment to developing the gaming and entertainment sectors in the Kingdom through PLAYHERA MENA, our gaming joint venture.

We hear a lot about of Tamam and PLAYHERA MENA; what drives telecoms to venture into sectors unrelated to their main area of specialization?

Through our vision and based on quality investments in innovation and technology, we have aspired to build an integrated ecosystem that combines telecommunications, digital solutions and services; thankfully, we have succeeded. This is evident in our company’s contribution to the transformation of the local ICT sector. In addition, our corporate strategy has made it a point to tap into thriving adjacent markets such as Fintech, Cloud Computing, Gaming and more.

Financial Technology is the future of the global financial sector, and the Kingdom aspires to become a world leader in Fintech by 2030. In 2021, global fintech investments stood at $210 billion, of which EMEA recorded $77.4 billion. In fact, it is forecasted that by 2030, Fintech players will be contributing SR 13.3 billion to our nation’s GDP and 18,000 Fintech jobs. Zain KSA’s strategy has enabled us to anticipate this surge in demand for Fintech solutions and align with the goals of Vision 2030, resulting in our launch of Tamam Financing Company, the first platform for consumer microfinancing that provides an unparalleled financially inclusive digital experience for our young women and men.

Another sector that aligns with our business that is also witnessing unprecedented growth is gaming and e-sports. It is projected that by 2023, annual global gaming revenue will exceed $200 billion. In 2021, the MENA region generated $6.3 billion in revenues with 100 million gamers. Saudi Arabia is growing into a gaming hub, with a market of $1 billion in 2021, and that is expected to reach $6.8 billion by 2030. Once again, Zain KSA was poised to tap into this demand and leverage our expertise and assets. In 2022, we partnered with PLAYHERA to establish PLAYHERA MENA, ensuring a suitable environment for innovators and content creators that nurtures talents and attracts professional gamers.

We expanded our partnership with NVIDIA, the leading provider of cloud gaming solutions, across more regional markets. Subscribers of regional telecom operators can access the GeForce NOW cloud game library from Zain KSA and enjoy the most powerful cloud gaming features.

Through our investment in the fintech and gaming sectors, we open new horizons for innovation and quality services to effectively contribute to the digital society in the Kingdom, providing users from all segments with great experiences and solutions.

With the increasing global interest in improving environmental sustainability, how does Zain KSA view corporate sustainability, and what value if any does it offer?

At Zain KSA, we believe that contributing to the socioeconomic development of the Kingdom creates value for all, given that economic growth and sustainability go hand-in-hand, and since its inception, Corporate Sustainability has been a key driver within Zain KSA.

We developed our Corporate Sustainability strategy around four pillars set to achieve meaningful connectivity at the level of Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) and that are focused on 11 UN SDGs. The four pillars are Climate change, Social Business, Inclusion and Youth Empowerment.

We continue to focus on reducing and offsetting carbon emissions — with our strategic ambition to become Net Zero by 2050 — through using energy-efficient equipment, the deployment of renewable energy solutions, the engagement process with our suppliers and partners and the implementation of a proper waste management system, including recycling devices to reduce e-waste. Zain ranked highest among telecom operators in the Middle East and Africa in the category of tackling climate change on the Carbon Disclosure Project (CDP) global index, where we achieved an (A-) rating for Management Scope.

As for inclusion, we launched the Women in Tech initiative to provide training programs for women in the technology sector. The initiative helps women studying STEM fields (Science, Technology, Engineering and mathematics) to be included in the workforce.

Another cornerstone of our Corporate Sustainability strategy is Youth Empowerment, where we have focused our efforts on training and empowering the youth segment of society. Starting with supporting children who enjoy science and technology, we launched several strategic partnerships and engagements with leading causes such as the NGO Youth Empowerment (Mentor Saudi) ThinkTech initiative, the Saudi Electronic Sports Federation and the National Olympiad for Scientific Creativity, in addition to launching the Evolve Program this year to empower young Saudi women and men, where a number of fresh graduates have joined a one-year program that will provide them with workplace training and skill development opportunities.

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