Dubai: The digital transformation journey in the Middle East is the same as what is happening elsewhere but with some differences, chief of Orange Business Services said.

Orange Business Services is the business-to-business branch of the French telecom Orange Group.

“In the UAE, especially Dubai, local authorities have decided to prioritise the outcomes which are the services delivered to the end users and to boost the economy,” Thierry Bonhomme, CEO of Orange Business Services, told Gulf News.

Bonhomme said that digital transformation means making employees happy, helping customers to be more loyal and attracted by the products, and invent new services. It is nothing to do with the technology itself.

“Digital transformation is the key to future development. First, it is a question of culture, then ambition and objective. Organisations need to rethink their working practices and choose better-adapted IT infrastructure to benefit from the digital transformation,” he said.

The French company, which opened its Middle East innovation hub and regional headquarters at Dubai Silicon Oasis on Tuesday, said that the UAE is at the forefront of technology with its wise leadership.

“We moved from Dubai Media City to DSO to expand and grow our business. We want to be close to our customers and partners and work within the ecosystem we are targeting. We work closely with start-ups and DSO has around 800 start-ups and DSO is also host to the Dubai Smart City Accelerator programme in which we are actively working with a group of start-ups,” said Luc Serviant, vice-president of Orange Business Services for Middle East and Africa.


Orange is also one of the six partners and co-sponsors of the Dubai Smart City Accelerator (DSCA), which was launched by Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority in 2017 and operated by Startupbootcamp — the network of industry-focused start-up accelerators.

In Saudi Arabia, Serviant said that Orange has recently signed a consulting deal with Jeddah Economic Company, the master developer of the world’s tallest tower — Jeddah Tower.

“We will be creating a blueprint for the ICT infrastructure of the tower, from the plan and design to the build and run phases, as part of Saudi Vision 2030. We have been working with a number of smart city projects in the Kingdom, including King Abdullah Financial District.

“We see a huge potential in Saudi Arabia and want to work with different partners,” he said.

According to research firm International Data Corporation, spending on the technologies that enable Smart City initiatives is forecast to reach $1.26 billion for the Middle East and Africa region in 2018. As these initiatives gain traction, IDC expects spending in MEA to accelerate over the 2016-2021 forecast period, reaching $2.30 billion in 2021.

The worldwide market for technologies enabling smart cities is expected to grow at a five-year compound annual growth rate of 18.6 per cent over the 2016-2021 period, and MEA is one of the regions that will see the fastest spending growth, with an annual growth rate of 21.2 per cent.

“We started in the region 10 years ago with a smart city project in Lebanon and every year we win one or two projects from the region,” Bonhomme said.

Orange has 50 clients in the Middle East and has been working for the last five decades.

“We are designing the digital blueprints for the smart infrastructure and smart services of some of the emerging smart cities across the region,” he said.