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du is committed to a sustainable future and positive change and is executing this focus under three key pillars: technology, innovation and digitalization, and sustainability. In an exclusive interview with Telecom Review, Fahad Al Hassawi, CEO at du, shared details of these pillars and this strategy, among other insights.

As we head into the latter half of the year, what have been the key milestones toward du's strategic, commercial and investment initiatives in 2023?

As we head into the latter half of the year, du has achieved key milestones in its strategic, commercial and investment initiatives in 2023. One significant milestone is the strong financial performance reported in Q2 2023. The company saw a 31.2% increase in net profit, with service revenues growing by 8.9% to AED 3.35 billion. du also celebrated reaching 8 million mobile subscribers this year, with more than half of its mobile network traffic now driven by 5G usage. Additionally, du has made substantial investments in areas such as 5G, artificial intelligence and the Internet of Things (IoT) to enhance its services and provide more value to customers. The company's commitment to innovation and network expansion has positioned it as the third-strongest brand in the UAE.

What are your insights regarding the revolutionary development of AI, 5G and other technologies, and how does this impact the services of telecom operators, including du?

The development of revolutionary technologies such as AI and 5G has a profound impact on telecom operators' services, including du. These technologies enable faster and more efficient data transfer, enhance customer experiences and open up new possibilities for innovation in various sectors. For du, 5G has been a key focus, with the company achieving impressive population coverage of 98.5% outdoors. The deployment of 5G has allowed du to offer new services, improve network capacity and support the growing demand for data. Furthermore, AI plays a significant role in enhancing network optimization, customer service and personalized offerings. These technologies contribute to the overall advancement and transformation of telecom services, ensuring a more connected and efficient digital ecosystem.

What are the challenges and opportunities behind being a digital-first telecom operator? How do you plan to take du to the next level in the coming years?

Being a digital-first telecom operator comes with both challenges and opportunities. One challenge is the rapid pace of technological advancements, which requires continuous investment and adaptation to stay ahead in the market. As the telecommunications industry shifts towards digitalization, telecom operators like du must embrace new business models, partnerships and technologies to remain competitive.

On the other hand, being a digital-first operator presents numerous opportunities to deliver innovative solutions, create personalized experiences and tap into emerging sectors such as IoT and smart cities. To take du to the next level, the company plans to focus on network expansion, enhancing customer experiences, and exploring new revenue streams through strategic acquisitions and partnerships. By leveraging its strong financial performance and technological expertise, du aims to remain at the forefront of digital transformation in the coming years.

Earlier this year, you described 2023 as the “year of innovation" for du. How has du's innovation process progressed to this point, and what can customers look forward to from the company moving forward?

du's innovation process has progressed steadily in 2023, aligning with its vision of making this year the "year of innovation." The company's investment in 5G, AI and other technologies has enabled the introduction of new services and enhanced customer experiences. du's focus on improving its network coverage, both in terms of mobile and fixed services, has been a priority, with initiatives such as the Solar on Tower (SOT) solution to enhance energy efficiency. Customers can look forward to continued advancements in 5G connectivity, AI-driven services and improved network quality. du's commitment to innovation and customer-centricity will drive the development of cutting-edge solutions that meet evolving customer needs and contribute to the UAE's digital transformation journey.

What is different about du's participation in GITEX 2023 from years past?

du's participation in GITEX Global 2023 is focused on driving sustainability and implementing initiatives aligned with the theme of "Shaping a sustainable tomorrow through advanced technology". This year, du is emphasizing its commitment to a sustainable future and positive change, highlighting three key pillars: technology, innovation and digitalization, and sustainability.

Under the technology pillar, du is leveraging cutting-edge technology to create a better society. For example, we have implemented robotic automation in our Future Factory to save energy, efficiently manage resources in agriculture using advanced tech and utilize AI virtual tutors in education.

In the innovation and digitalization pillar, du is driving digital empowerment and revolutionizing the business landscape. We enable government entities' digital transformation through cloud migration, AI, IoT, blockchain, data centers and 5G. We also provide AI-powered guidance for SMEs and startups through our AI-powered consultant, Amani.

In line with the sustainability theme, du is committed to a sustainable future and positive change. We have implemented initiatives such as a solar-powered mobile tower that feeds energy back to the grid and a global marketplace for connected recycling.

du's participation showcases various initiatives and partnerships aligned with our sustainability goals. Some examples include showcasing dark factory robotics and automation in the manufacturing industry, smart farming for sustainable agriculture, drone inspection and delivery for safety and sustainability, and a one-stop geriatric assessment center for healthcare. du's active participation and implementation of sustainable initiatives demonstrate commitment to supporting the UAE's strategic vision and fostering a sustainable future.

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