Interview: Sheikh Hamad bin Abdulla Al Thani

How can telecoms solutions in Qatar’s business spheres be best implemented?

SHEIKH HAMAD BIN ABDULLA AL THANI: The economic development pillar of Qatar National Vision 2030 emphasises the importance of creating a competitive and diversified economy, providing a high standard of living for the people of Qatar.

In recent years, the digital transformation led by telecoms operators has reshaped and transformed the way businesses operate on a global level. In Qatar the telecoms sector is in robust health and is making increasing contributions to the national economy. Operators are expanding into areas such as Fibre to the Home, fixed-line networks and internet of things (IoT) solutions, which connect everyday objects to the internet, enabling them to send and receive data.

We are making steady progress building fixed infrastructure in a number of locations around the country. This will provide the backbone for many of the country’s developments. Our fixed-line network will bring much-needed sustainable and effective competition to Qatar, which will benefit businesses and consumers alike, encouraging further investment and ultimately delivering innovation and efficiency. The development of such a network opens up new job opportunities and possibilities for public and private sector collaboration. It will also help businesses become more productive, efficient and ultimately, more profitable.

The ICT market is expected to grow by 2.3% per year, reaching $4.4bn in 2021. What does this mean for the business community’s investment priorities?

SHEIKH HAMAD: The size of the ICT market reflects the fact that it underpins nearly every sector of the economy, and is crucial to Qatar’s dynamic and forward-looking approach. It provides the backbone that supports the country’s progress in developing a diversified and knowledge-based economy.

A strong and robust ICT sector opens up a range of investment opportunities and potential partnerships, and also supports the growth of businesses – including small and medium-sized enterprises.

By providing businesses with a range of fixed and mobile connectivity, IoT and unified-communications solutions, and cloud and security services, we are enabling a growing number of organisations to optimise, automate and innovate. This allows them to become more efficient, cut costs, grow revenues and improve margins. At the same time they can enhance the security of their operations and minimise their vulnerability.

What business opportunities arise with the implementation of 5G networks, and how can infrastructure capitalise on such growth potential?

SHEIKH HAMAD: The benefits of 5G will be significant for businesses. It will transform how quickly everyday information is accessed, and will enhance services and mobile technologies that are used in both personal and professional capacities. Businesses across all sectors will be able to monitor their operations in real time. Goods will be produced more efficiently, and in a manner more responsive to consumer needs, which will minimise waste. This will help accelerate Qatar’s move towards self-sufficiency across every sector. The biggest change will be in latency – a shorter time will be needed to stream data between two points, allowing users to connect everything in real time and make buffering an inconvenience of the past.

5G has the potential to transform how industries operate. It could enable engineers to run autonomous haulage and drilling in mines, preventing accidents. In the health care industry, doctors and surgeons will be able to perform procedures remotely using robotics. 5G will allow us to engineer self-driving vehicles that are able to sense surrounding conditions, averting collisions and pre-empting danger. This has large implications for both customers and businesses operating in the logistics sector, and will create a number of opportunities for businesses in Qatar, as well as in the rest of the world.