UAE telecoms company e& partners with Microsoft to boost technology

Agreement intends to accelerate value creation, innovation and achieve more for the benefit of customers

Hatem Dowidar, left, e&’s chief executive, and Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive of Microsoft. The companies signed a pact to boost technology and innovations. Photo: e&
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The UAE’s biggest telecoms operator e& has joined forces with the US technology company Microsoft to boost innovation and offer more tech-driven products to customers.

The partnership is aimed at accelerating value creation, innovation and achieving more for the benefit of customers, the entities said in a joint statement on Monday.

“Our partnership with Microsoft is an example of synergy in action,” said e&’s chief executive Hatem Dowidar, who was part of the delegation that signed the deal at Microsoft’s headquarters in Redmond, US.

“e& is combining one of the world’s fastest 5G networks with Microsoft’s cloud, AI [artificial intelligence], edge and data services … addressing a regional market hungry for digital transformation,” Mr Dowidar said.

Formerly known as Etisalat, the company rebranded and changed its identity to e& last month as it aims to transform into a global technology investment conglomerate.

Based in Abu Dhabi, the operator was founded in 1976 and is the UAE's oldest telecoms company. It has operations in 16 countries across the Middle East, Asia and Africa, serving more than 156 million customers.

As part of the agreement, e& and Microsoft will create a long-term strategic collaboration that will enable the Abu Dhabi company to go “beyond the realms of traditional telecommunications to transform the lives of its customers and advance the digitalisation journey of enterprises”, the statement said.

It will also help e& harness the versatility of the Microsoft cloud and partner ecosystem to create new solutions.

The partnership will be structured on three strategic pillars: focusing on business-to-business engagement, reinventing the consumer experience and setting the foundations to power e&’s transformation journey.

“We are confident that this collaboration will continue to support the ever-growing demands of this market and our digital journey of transformation and innovation,” Mr Dowidar said.

In 2019, Microsoft launched its UAE data centres in collaboration with e&.

“e& has made a commitment to continuously innovate, and we are proud of the role Microsoft is playing as part of this journey,” said Judson Althoff, executive vice president and chief commercial officer of Microsoft.

“Our strategic partnership emphasises the role that Microsoft’s trusted cloud plays in our customers’ digital transformation, bringing together the unique capability of networks, hyperscale infrastructure and partner solutions to drive economic growth, sustainability and societal well-being.”

The company reported a 3 per cent rise in 2021 net profit to Dh9.3 billion ($2.5bn) and its sales grew 3 per cent on the year to Dh53.3bn during the period.

The operator is also exploring the development of 6G, the next-generation mobile network that will allow for much faster and more sophisticated technology use.

The Microsoft partnership is the latest in a string of deals e& has forged to boost its portfolio.

Last week, the company made an offer to increase its stake in Saudi telecoms company Etihad Etisalat, better known as Mobily, to 50 per cent. It currently owns a 28 per cent stake in Mobily.

Its entertainment arm, E-Vision, and Abu Dhabi holding company ADQ also signed a deal to acquire a majority stake in video streaming service Starzplay Arabia.

In January, the company completed the acquisition of elGrocer, an online marketplace for groceries that operates across the Emirates.

In October, it signed a binding agreement with Abu Dhabi-based artificial intelligence services provider G42 to create the UAE's largest data centre provider.

In August, Etisalat acquired an additional stake in Maroc Telecom Group, increasing its effective ownership from 48.4 per cent to 53 per cent.

Updated: March 21, 2022, 4:38 PM