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SAUDI ARABIA - Telecoms & IT

Ahmed Jaber Al-Faifi

Senior vice-president, SAP Middle East & North Africa region

Bio

Ahmed Jaber Al-Faifi joined SAP from Zain KSA, where he held the positions of COO and CTO. He spent more than six years with Ericsson, including a stint as the head of new accounts and business development. In addition, he worked as the mobile licensing manager for Saudi Arabia’s Communication and IT Commission. Al-Faifi started his career at the Saudi Ministry of Defense and Aviation (MODA), where he spent almost six years. He holds an MSc in telecommunications engineering from KAAU University at Jeddah, a mobile technology diploma from Ericsson, and BSc in electronics engineering (VLSI) from King Saud University at Riyadh.

"We signed an MoU with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in 2017 for SAP to engage more with the transformation of the country."
SAP has positioned itself as an innovation business leader in Saudi Arabia, while growing its local talent capacity to meet market demands and expand its footprint.
What practices and know-how can SAP bring into the KSA to enhance the industry’s growth?

We signed an MoU with the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology in 2017 for SAP to engage more with the transformation of the country. We built an ecosystem, trained people, and brought in partners between 2016 and 2021. In 2017, we also started building a cloud data center and went live with it between 2018-2021. Currently, we have three data centers in Saudi Arabia that are fully localized, as well as many core innovation centers. Regarding the future, we see considerable alignment between SAP and the government in Saudi Arabia, especially with the Minister of Telecommunications. The government is enabling digital transformation for every sector and thereby solving major challenges. We have an agreement with them to find sustainable solutions and help companies reduce CO2 emissions. We also work on localization. Businesses rely on SAP to support them with these new services and changes. Going forward, we are going straight to economic diversification and leading that initiative because we have the capabilities to do so. This approach leads to additional investment in our cloud infrastructure in Saudi Arabia along with knowledge transfer, especially in the areas or the industries into which KSA wants to diversify, such as entertainment and tourism. We are running many courses in collaboration with 33 universities. We are working to help companies provide a whole new experience from end to end. During the next five years, with our additional capabilities, we aim to become highly specialized in every industry to add value. We are bringing experiences and knowledge transfer from SAP in other countries and will be starting from a good level of knowledge.

What other projects is SAP currently working on to expand within the Kingdom?

Vision 2030 is a guideline for everyone, and we are focused on related projects. Meanwhile, the government is driving the Vision energetically. Over the past four years, we have made great progress in our business at SAP and notably increased our market share by supporting our customers. When it comes to infrastructure, we are working with the telecoms sector to enable certain 5G capabilities. Regarding large industries, we are covering 25 industries where business is strong, from oil and gas to retail and telecommunications. We are also focused on working with the government. In 2021, we signed a unified resource planning for the government, with the public sector and the government represented by the Minister of Finance. Additionally, last year, the government announced plans to privatize many sectors including education and healthcare, with the Ministry retaining a supervisory role. This would imply many new business opportunities for us. SMEs are also key for Saudi Arabia as they drive the national economy, and this is a big priority for us. Currently, our business is 40% in the public and 60% in the private sector. In 2020, we doubled our business with the former. They are adapting to cloud and introducing many regulations. The public sector is growing very fast, so probably this year the ration will be 50:50.

What are your key objectives for the next six to twelve months?

In the short term, SAP has big investment plans in the Kingdom. We are adding a dedicated data center for the public sector, by isolating it from the private sphere. We want to provide solutions, education, know-how, experience, and best-of-practice to connect them with other customers. We are also keen to share experiences from SAP overseas, especially in the new industries, which features prominently on our agenda. We also intend to build capabilities over the next six months to one year and engage in knowledge transfer. Meanwhile, we’re working on sustainability and our objective is to make a real impact in supporting green Middle East initiatives. Ultimately, we deliver our time, solutions, and know-how for the betterment of Saudi Arabia.

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