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During Capacity Middle East 2023, Cengiz Oztelcan, CEO, Gulf Bridge International (GBI), based in Doha, Qatar, joined a panel focused on the topic of “optimizing the connectivity partnership model.”

This special in-country focus section tackles the connectivity landscape in the Middle East and the efforts of the GCC to further improve regional cooperation and establish global hubs.

From a hyperscaler perspective, Oztelcan mentioned how, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Middle East region had enough time to look into the cloud infrastructure buildout. Competition and collaboration were evident as GBI strived to grow its core businesses.

To the question “Why do we collaborate?”, Oztelcan highlighted the reasons as “sharing risks, responsibilities and expertise.” The partnership between hyperscalers, who have the cloud and enterprise customer base advantage, and companies like GBI, who have the footprint, fiber and infrastructure assets, forms a symbiotic relationship.

In his own words, the GBI executive pointed out that, from a telco’s perspective, “we build and we partner.”

Positioning itself to be more than a subsea player, GBI is enhancing its footprint and emerging as an end-to-end service provider. Oztelcan believes that the region has great support from the government level when it comes to enterprise connectivity, and cloud investments have great returns ranging from 100–250%.

“There is a huge level of partnership between the government and private business to accelerate adoption, and the regulators are taking their stances,” explained Oztelcan.

Regulators have completely shifted and become enablers and accelerators of technology adoption. He further pointed out that technology optimization is achieved through “softwarization.”

In essence, building to scale is the key in the region at large, not only in Qatar, which is GBI’s home market. “It is important not only to scale in the home market but to be accessible enough and pave the path to becoming a regional hub.”

Oztelcan affirmed that there will be not one but multiple digital hubs in the Middle East. Qatar alone, despite being a small country, is at the forefront of technological advancements, particularly in cloud-friendly frameworks.

As one of the international neutral players in the region, GBI will continue to help build networks that minimize latency and empower mission-critical applications — those networks that support SLAs and uptime requirements that differ from industry to industry.

Carl Roberts, partner, Hadaara Consulting, moderated the panel, while Mohammed Alabbadi, group chief carrier and wholesale officer, stc, joined Oztelcan on stage for the discussion.

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