UAE: Enjoy multiple utility services with a few clicks

Masood M Sharif Mahmoud, CEO, etisalat by e& UAE, elaborates on the technology giant's roadmap as it heads into the Metaverse


Joydeep Sengupta

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Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO Etisalat by e&, at Gitex 2022. Photo by Shihab
Masood M. Sharif Mahmood, CEO Etisalat by e&, at Gitex 2022. Photo by Shihab

Published: Mon 10 Oct 2022, 8:23 PM

Last updated: Mon 10 Oct 2022, 8:41 PM

Masood M Sharif Mahmoud, Chief Executive Officer (CEO), etisalat by e& UAE, is a veteran executive with over 20 years of technology and telecom experience. He has demonstrated expertise in building high-performance teams, transforming operations, implementing change from the ground up, and leveraging it.

Masood gave an exclusive interview to Khaleej Times on the opening day of Gitex Global 2022 on Monday.

Here are some edited excerpts from the interview:

Why has Etisalat been rebranded as etisalat by e&? What is the strategy for rebranding?

The evolution of Etisalat UAE as Etisalat by e& builds on the solid foundations of its success as the group’s growth engine since 1976, and signals the imminent change that our UAE telecoms business will undergo in keeping with its aspirations to deliver amidst a dynamic business landscape.

This step symbolises a lot more than a brand identity change. It works in tandem with our refreshed strategy where we are on a mission to “grow”, “transform”, and “excel”. We have embarked on a new journey that predicates upon a shift in operating model, which will support sustaining our leading position, while enhancing digital customer experience and operational agility. As part of our new strategy, we will grow core and digital services – by enriching consumers’ value propositions with digital services that cater for consumers’ new lifestyles and emerging demands beyond basic telecom services, including areas like gaming, health, and insurance.

Moreover, we will continue to act as the business trusted partner and advisor by enabling their connectivity, and beyond connectivity requirements. This, in turn, will accelerate the digital economy and pivot new, sustainable demand in future-forward spaces like private networks, autonomous vehicles, and artificial intelligence (AI).

I want to emphasise that people will always remain our focus. We will continue to drive talent development in the information and communication technology (ICT) sector while promoting a culture of innovation bravery. etisalat by e& will remain the factory of technological leadership that serves the wider community and bridges the digital divide.

Superior customer experience is another foundational block in our transformation into a digital technology company. We will harness the power of analytics to offer personalised experiences across all digital and physical channels. The step-change in experience will be enabled by a radical simplification in the operating model, which will power value creation in a more efficient and innovative manner.

For technology companies to succeed in the heavily digitised business landscape, they must evolve. What must change?

Historically, the role of technology companies was to create products and services around voice and SMS for customers en-masse. Once the business ecosystem changed rapidly and dramatically, especially in the last few years, the emergence of data and the internet led to the evolution of customer needs and expectations. This led to heightened competition in the consumer space.

In the business-to-business (B2B) segment, there has been an increasing overlap in offers and reach, where tech companies have started to expand into this space – while hyperscalers have relied on their connectivity to provide their services.

The telecoms sector must no longer be seen as running the voice ecosystem. The new ecosystem is a more complex, connected and decentralised one, and it’s time to evolve into a digital tech company in order to tackle the challenges of increased competition and the rapid changes in the technological landscape. This will include advances in network technology but also next-generation technologies such as AI, edge computing, augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR) and blockchain.

Our recent transformation will allow us to focus on our high-value core business, while allowing the group to grow in new strategic directions and spin off adjacent non-core businesses, which will lead to adding more value to our customers’ lives. In line with the group’s aspirations to become a global technology and investment conglomerate, with ambitious goals for geographical expansion, deeper market penetration, mergers and acquisitions (M&As), we have achieved delayering, converged our operating model, merged and simplified our information technology (IT) and technology functions.

This has led to enhanced efficiencies across the board. Moving forward, we are focused on implementing a digital and customer-centric strategy. The B2B orchestrator strategy involves offering XaaS and other streamlined business-to-consumer (B2C) services in smart solutions, insurance, and entertainment.

What’s etisalat by e&’s growth strategy for the next couple of years?

While the group’s new strategy will focus on technology, telecom services will continue to remain important. However, new forces are set to radically transform communications in the next decade as new trends and technologies continue to emerge. Evolving customer needs, network requirements, operating cost structures, and investment constraints will require telecom operators to make a series of critical, strategic decisions as the new reality emerges. As a result, scenario planning will become a critical component of the strategic toolset to help inform the optimal course of action.

We believe accelerated technology adoption (for example, focused on 5G, Edge and private networks) and the new normal has created unprecedented conditions that offer clear growth opportunities. These opportunities allow us to expand our product portfolio into smart connectivity, leveraging the “connectivity renaissance” that our industry is witnessing.

There’s a lot more coming up in the area of digital transformation for the country and globally. It’s such a remarkable journey for etisalat by e& to be part of such a global technology and investment conglomerate such as e& – which has ambitious goals and aspirations to make it possible for each one of us to partake in a brighter, digital future built on innovation, the spirit of excellence and superior customer experience.

GoChat Messanger strikes a big chord with consumers

Etilsalat by e& launched a new messaging platform called GoChat Messenger on July 1 that allows UAE residents to make free video and voice calls to anywhere in the world.

Here are some of its unique features:

  • GoChat crossed 3 million downloads worldwide
  • GoChat Official Channel to catch what’s new on GoChat Messenger application
  • Business Channels: Learn more about exciting offers, discounts, new launches from different brands and business such as Smiles, FNP, Swyp, elGrocer, SwitchTV and many more
  • GoChat users just need to follow the channel they like, and they will start receiving the latest news, discounts, etc the brand
  • Play, win and compete on various challenges, tournaments, battles and trivia in its all new gaming section
  • Earn more smiles points by joining the referral programme “Invite and Earn”
  • Additional new news feeds from the top major local newspapers such as Khaleej Times to enhance subscribers’ experience

Boost to 5G coverage

The coverage of the 5G network reached 95 per cent of the proportion of the populated areas in the country, with a download speed of 3.1 gigabytes per second (Gbps). The company aspires to bring the coverage of the 5G network to 97 per cent by the end of this year. The number of subscribers to Etisalat e& services reached 13.3 million by the end of the first half of this year.

The company has contributed to making the UAE the first globally in terms of fibre-optic home (FTTH) network penetration, reaching more than 2.60 million homes, with a total longitudinal distance of more than 12.7 million kilometres for optical fibres.

With regard to coverage rates for other generations of networks, the third-generation coverage reached 99.84 per cent with a download speed of up to 42 megabytes per second. The advanced fourth generation reached 99.74 per cent with a download speed of up to 480 megabytes per second, and the fifth generation reached 95 per cent with a download speed of more than 3.1 Gbps.


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