How your mobile phone is shaping Qatar’s future…

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(For illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)

By Peter van Meer

Don’t deny it – most of us would be completely lost without our mobile phones.

Whether you’re a CEO nonchalantly tapping away on a bejewelled Vertu handset, or an expatriate worker using a battered old Nokia to reach your loved ones in distant lands, one could count the number of people in Qatar who don’t own a mobile in single digits.

But whenever you use your mobile – calling, texting, chatting on social media – you may not know that you’re actually making a difference to how Qatar is developing as a nation, a direct contribution to the economy, and also informing your service provider about what you want in terms of price plans, data allowances and suchlike.

ILQ spoke exclusively to Mohamed Al Sadah, Chief Operating Officer of Vodafone Qatar (VQ), to discuss how using your mobile is helping shape Qatar’s future…

The mobile market in Qatar mobile is dynamic and competitive,” said Mr. Al Sadah, “but we’re not just focused on the number of phones in circulation. We pay very close attention to the way people use their phones – so that we can enable them to confidently connect to what matters to them most.”

(Mr. Mohamed Al Sadah, COO, Vodafone Qatar Photo credit: Vodafone Qatar)

ILQ: Is mobile phone use all data-driven now? Tell us about VQ’s data capacity going forward.

MAS: “Social media usage in Qatar is among the highest in the Middle East. Demand and the use of VOIP [Voice over Internet Protocol: Skype, WhatsApp, Face Time, etc.] is growing, so we see data demand significantly increasing.

“We are perfectly placed to respond, having invested almost one billion riyals to deliver significant improvements in network quality. Data is our fastest growing product offering.”

ILQ: The telecoms sector has become a significant chunk (c.5%, and growing) of the Qatari economy. How does VQ feel about its contribution to the development of its homeland? 

MAS: “The telecommunications sector in Qatar will play a key role in helping the country progress towards its vision of becoming a knowledge-based economy.

“We have embraced the digital age that feeds the fast-growing demand for data. We are committed to reviving and preserving the heritage of Qatar, reinforcing national identity, and supporting Qatarization.”

ILQ: How is the telecoms sector maturing? Is there anything exciting on the horizon that we should know about? 

MAS: “Mobile is, and will continue to be, our business’ major strength. The benefits to consumers since VQ entered the mobile market are plain to see.  We look forward to developing a more comprehensive suite of products. 

“We have successfully rolled out fibre in Barwa City and parts of West Bay (more than 30 towers) with more areas in the pipeline. You can expect to hear some exciting news from us in these areas in the near future.”

(For illustrative purposes only. Photo credit: iStock by Getty Images)

ILQ: Can you give us a snapshot of what the telecoms sector in Qatar will look like in five years' time?

MAS: “It’s risky to try to predict the future given how rapidly technology is advancing in markets worldwide. What I can confidently state is that as one of the world’s leading telecommunications businesses, with mobile operations in 26 countries and partners with mobile networks in 52 more, we’re ideally positioned to adapt our operations to reflect technological developments.

“Five years from now marks the 2022 Qatar World Cup, so we might expect some very interesting developments in the role that the telecoms sector can play in supporting Qatar’s efforts to deliver an amazing tournament.

“As preparations for the World Cup accelerate, so will fans’ expectations for superfast connectivity. The ability to share videos, pictures, and messages online will be an important aspect of the fan experience in 2022.” 

A quiet confidence radiates from Mr. Al Sadah, who concludes: “Increasing numbers of customers are choosing Vodafone. At the end of last year our customer base had grown to more than 1.47 million.”

Impressive numbers, but what really impresses was how quickly Mr. Al Sadah mentioned the transition that Qatar seeks to make from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a knowledge-based one.

 Qatar’s gas riches are finite. Communication, however, is eternal. One cannot help but get the feeling that when the last of the gas has been sucked from beneath the sea, Vodafone Qatar will still be here, and still delivering what its customers demand.

Last week, Vodafone Qatar made a major announcement regarding major changes and innovations to its pre-paid ‘Red’ product line. That information can be found here.

What are your thoughts on the future of telecommunications in Qatar? Drop us a line in the comments below and tell us your opinion. Also, don’t forget to give us a like and a share – it keeps us going!