Dubai: Enabling 5G networks and cloud services – for Huawei’s enterprise push in the UAE and Middle East markets, these are the two pillars to build on. A third pillar, of course, comes by way of the smartphone and accessories, which keeps adding more users to Huawei’s vision of an always-on consumer universe.
But it is on the enterprise side that the Chinese tech giant keeps checking out the big wins. Cases in point were 5G-related contracts from e& and du, and which should keep Huawei busy with the planning and execution in the near-term.
Of equal significance was a project win with Dubai South, the builder behind the 145 square kilometre multi ‘district’ development (and the site for District 2020). Shunli Wang, Vice-President of Huawei Middle East, gives an update on how the rest of 2022 will likely shape up for the company.
Would you say the major 5G-linked contracts have already been awarded by telcos in the Gulf?Or do you reckon 2022 will be the bumper year for the big 5G tenders?
We’ve seen that telecom operators who have invested early in 5G have achieved significant payoffs in terms of faster revenue growth and their ability to create new revenue streams through industry-specific 5G applications. This is really the next chapter of 5G - industries such as oil and gas, manufacturing, healthcare, and others deploying more scenario-specific 5G applications in partnership with local carriers.
Huawei is already exploring applications of 5G-tailored solutions for over 20 industries worldwide.
Working with industry partners like 3GPP, GSMA, and others, we are contributing to the evolution of what is the ‘5GtoB ecosystem’. By further developing 5G standards and harmonizing the spectrum, for instance, industries in the UAE will find it easier and faster to embrace 5G applications.
In 2021, Huawei worked with more than 500 new industry solution partners who complement our capabilities, with whom we jointly released over 700 solutions, including more than 100 scenario-based 5GtoB solutions. These solutions were deployed in more than 10,000 5GtoB projects in the enterprise market.
We feel it is also important to use comprehensive solutions that integrate ‘green’ sites, green networks, and green operations to continuously increase network capacity at lower energy consumption per bit. As a result, we anticipate investments in 5G infrastructure and applications to continue rising in 2022.
What sort of timeline do you have for these project completions? Do 5G projects represent the biggest chunk of your regional business?
It is a considerable business opportunity for us. Globally, in 2021, our carrier network business represented approximately 44 per cent of our total business.
Whether it is 5G or any other technology, we always start by thinking about how we can create value for our customers and improve their business performance. Supporting carriers to build, maintain, expand and enhance their 5G infrastructure is one way.
In parallel, we are always looking at how to drive prosperity in the digital economy, including building simple, green, and intelligent ICT infrastructure that helps all industries go digital. Often, that is working directly with enterprises, or in joint projects with a carrier and a local enterprise.
In many instances, our contribution to such projects is not limited to 5G network technology alone, but leverages our strengths across other domains such as cloud, smart devices, digital power, and so on.
There was one major win for Huawei from Dubai South, which also looked at ‘smart transportation’ possibilities. What’s the scope on that one?
This is an exciting new partnership that looks at enabling more connected and sustainable services at Dubai South. We have started by looking at how we can support Dubai South to build a connected aviation community capable of supporting sophisticated services in line with the future of transportation and mobility.
Huawei actually has a great deal of experience globally in the aviation sector, and already powers some of the most prominent airport projects in the UAE and wider GCC. In addition to network enhancements, one of the major themes we are exploring is an integrated operations centre that facilitates more seamless and centralized control of air traffic, security, and other operations through ICT.
It was last year Huawei made a determined push into cloud and data center operations in the UAE. Will this be rolled out in Saudi and other Gulf markets too?
Across the region, we are deeply engaged in digitalization as a service, whether that is offering infrastructure, technology, or expertise in a cloud-based model. We call this ‘Everything as a Service’.
Today, the Huawei Cloud can accelerate the digital transformation of all organizations in the region. Our offerings help enterprises to minimize the carbon footprint from their IT infrastructure, speed up development of new apps and business processes, and enable them to innovate faster in a digital economy.
To build this cloud infrastructure, we see four essential elements: technology, economic alignment, a talent ecosystem, and digital sovereignty. We are working with governments and local partners to strengthen these foundations through initiatives such as our Spark Program, which supports start-ups in building their cloud capabilities.
Regarding cloud regions, we already have a cloud region based in the UAE. Earlier this year, we announced that a new cloud region will be established in Saudi Arabia. Our intention with all such investments is to allow more businesses and governments in the Middle East to have access to our cloud services.
In the Middle East, Huawei Cloud now offers more than 220 services, 19 data centers, over 200 local partners, and a growing list of more than 80 marketplace offerings.
Are there new operational areas that you plan to add this year to the regional coverage?
One emerging area where we see great potential across the region is digital power. Carbon neutrality has become a hallmark of many Middle East countries’ national development agendas. The innovations we are making in ICT will play a central role in tackling climate change and helping nations achieve carbon reduction goals.
Last year, we launched our Huawei Digital Power business. This team is now integrating digital and power electronics technologies to develop clean energy and help traditional energy sectors build a greener future. We are looking at five key areas: Smart PV, data center facilities, mPower for electric vehicles, site power, and integrated energy solutions.
Whether it is in digital power, 5G networks, cloud services, or any other area, we are ready - and willing - to work with partners across the entire value chain.