The Business Year

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Amor Ben Dhia

Chairman & CEO, Cellempower

By mid-2008, the market started feeling one of the biggest financial and economic crises the world has ever witnessed. The GCC was hit and the situation became extremely tough and difficult. Since then, the situation has remained difficult, but we bounced back and made sure that our business would thrive by sticking with our customers and clients, serving them at our utmost best and thereby gaining their trust and confidence. However, in our experience, investment in value-added services was extremely challenging. It is hard to make people understand that while it is based on intelligence and human resources, there is still a certain level of risk when you invest in a company like Cellempower. Though we are profitable, and we weathered the storm, there are still challenges—it is just the way the country is. The attitude of the investors or institutions is extremely conservative regarding this innovative ICT business, which is now generating two—sometimes three—digits of growth, year-in and year-out. ICT revenues represent more than 35% of the telecoms industry’s total revenues in less than five years’ time. We are as confident as the serious analysts that this sector of mobile value-added services and data in general will continue generating more wealth and opportunities, thanks to the technological readiness, quality of the terminals, and the involvement of different major players.

NAYLA AL KHAJA

Producer & Director, D-SEVEN Motion Pictures

The local film industry in Dubai is still in its early stages, and the Emirate is experiencing a very interesting phenomenon. Both fear and excitement spread rapidly here, and I would not be surprised if filmmaking catches on at a similar speed. Anything that grows fast can be very risky as well, but so far the spirit of the industry is daring and fearless. A decade ago, there was very little infrastructure for filmmaking. Today, many more resources are available—whether filmmakers seek crew or equipment. I can confidently say that I have made a film in the UAE without hiring equipment from overseas. However, we still have a lack of personnel in the field. In film, there are many departments, and in Dubai, it can be difficult to find a specialized pyro-technician, precision driver, or stunt master. We do fly in specific crewmembers, but the basic actors and technicians are here. Film fever has infected the Middle East, especially in the GCC. To be more specific, Doha, Abu Dhabi, and Dubai are increasing their efforts in film education and awareness through new programs, workshop training, university courses, and festivals. In the past, the Dubai International Film Festival (DIFF) was the only celebration of the industry in the region, but today we have over five film festivals in the Gulf. This is a very good sign that there is increasing demand for film, and many young aspiring filmmakers.

ISLAM ZWEEN

Business Director, ISLAM ZWEEN

We offer SMEs web stores that address their branding needs. For retailers without e-commerce infrastructure of their own, we provide an online platform to sell their products. We are trying to build an e-commerce community. If we do not come together, there will not be an industry. Therefore, we are trying to cater to businesses as much as we are trying to cater to consumers. Other innovations we are introducing concern online payments. We are introducing bank transfers as an option for those customers who do not wish to share their credit card information online. These customers can also purchase pre-paid cards and control the money they spend at Logta. Logistics is very important, and couriers now have to enhance their operations related to e-commerce, or new players in the market will fill this void. Some integration is needed between retailers and logistics. Retailers need to improve their inventory of goods available on online platforms. We notice that logistics operators do not treat online shoppers very seriously, and the quality of their operations as far as e-commerce is concerned falls short of customer and retailer expectations. Also, there is room for investments in warehousing, which we have already started in Saudi Arabia. This model had been applied by Amazon for a long time, and we are adopting this model gradually, trying to implement it in a way that speaks to the needs of the region.

Suleiman Jasir Al-Herbish

Director General & CEO, OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID)

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