Rapid digitalisation must to ensure prosperity, sustainability in ME

Rapid digitalisation must to ensure prosperity, sustainability in ME

Rapid digitalisation must to ensure prosperity, sustainability in ME

ISLAMABAD: As more industries across the Middle East embrace digital transformation, a focus on collaborative development will be pivotal to extending the gains achieved to-date, according to Huawei’s top executive in the region.

Steven Yi, the recently appointed president of the Huawei Middle East, spoke with journalists from around the region on the sidelines of the GITEX Global 2021 summit held recently in Dubai, UAE.

The executive noted how many governments and enterprises in the Middle East today have benefited greatly from being at the forefront of emerging technologies, be it 5G commercial deployments, adopting cloud capabilities, designing intelligent city infrastructure, and more.

In cloud alone, approximately 81 per cent of the enterprises globally now use cloud-based applications, with Yi wanting to extend these benefits to the countries in the Middle East.

Huawei recently announced investing $15 million to support cloud-oriented ecosystem development in the region, with Huawei cloud having already developed more than 100 local partners in the Middle East. Huawei cloud and partners are now covering 27 regions and serve over 170 countries.


“In the last two years, the development of new technologies and the new normal under the pandemic has accelerated the advent of a digital world,” Yi said.

The executive spoke on how that spirit of collaboration in the ICT domain can open new windows of socioeconomic progress in line with the countries’ national development agendas. Yet it will also take a concerted effort to drive digitalisation in ways that will create value for all.

“Openness and globalisation are irreversible trends. Almost every country has now formulated its national strategies, and the integration of advanced technologies such as 5G, cloud, and AI will significantly serve the targets of building digital economies and achieving these visions and targets,” Yi said.

In this regard, Huawei has openly collaborated with the government entities to contribute to their national visions and develop their ICT ecosystems. As a result, Yi confirmed that the company’s business has continued to grow in the region.

“We are grateful to the customers and partners in the Middle East for their trust and support. We remain committed to the customer-centricity in the Middle East, for the Middle East,” he added.

Though we are living in a digital age, Yi acknowledged that some are still left behind and are unable to benefit from emerging technology and the opportunities that it provides. Meanwhile, the UN has estimated that 68 per cent of the world’s population will live in urban areas by 2050, putting pressure on the cities themselves to move towards more intelligent management and connectivity.


“Talent is the cornerstone for a digital economy. While each Middle East country has different plans for different situations, talent cultivation must be our long-term strategy,” Yi said and cited how Huawei alone plans to train 100,000 ICT talent across the Middle East over the next three years, working with local universities and relevant organisations and governments.

In addition to growing the local talent pool, Yi recognised how the sustainable development of the sector would require advancing open, transparent, and secure networks.

For its part, in the past 30 years, Huawei has not had any major incident related to cybersecurity. “We call on all parties to cooperate in the fields such as governance, architecture, standards, and verification, sharing successful practices so as to enhance the trust and confidence of the society as a whole,” Yi said. “Cyber-security is a common challenge for the entire industry, for all companies and all countries. It is really a technical issue, and it needs technical solutions based on verifiable facts and objective methods.”

The launch of a 5G security working group earlier this year within the Organization of the Islamic Cooperation – Computer Emergency Response Team (OIC-CERT) is just one example of such collaboration.

In addition to being a member of the OIC-CERT, Huawei is one of the first telecommunication vendors to have its 5G equipment audited, tested, and certified under GSMA’s NESAS/SCAS scheme, while contributing to the developments of 3GPP’s security specifications.

Touching on 5G specifically, Yi reaffirmed that 5G deployments have been “quite successful” in the Middle East to-date, with the number of 5G subscribers in the GCC countries estimated to exceed 10 million by the end of 2021.


Globally, 176 commercial 5G networks have been deployed. “Traffic is growing rapidly in the Middle East. Since the pandemic, industry digitalisation and online business have gained strong momentum. The next important step in 5G development is 5GtoB – applying 5G technologies to all industries,” Yi added.

The benefits of developing local talent, strengthening cyber-security frameworks, and expanding 5G applications are further detailed in a new Huawei Intelligent World 2030 report, which provides a glimpse of what the world will look like in 2030 in healthcare, food, living spaces, transportation, cities, enterprises, energy, and digital trust.

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