China's Huawei Technologies plans to continue to invest in the Middle East and Africa to sustain its growth in the region, its top executive in the UAE has said.
The company aims to expand its portfolio across all its product categories, with a particular focus on its smartphone business, Peak Yin, UAE country manager of Huawei Consumer Business Group, told The National.
“The Middle East and Africa is an important region for Huawei and we will continue to invest. Overall, we have kept a steady and positive business performance in the region,” Mr Yin said on the sidelines of the launch of Huawei's latest smartphones, the P60 series and the Mate X3 foldable, in Dubai.
“We maintained our growth in 2023, with the launch of flagship products … we are aiming to bring more smartphones this year and expand our product portfolio in all categories. We are confident.”
Shenzhen-based Huawei has been hit by US sanctions stemming from Washington's allegations that the company is a national security risk. Huawei has denied all the charges.
The move resulted in Huawei being unable to access key services from Google, whose Android operating system once powered its smartphones and apps, including Gmail, Maps and YouTube.
That prompted Huawei to develop its own HarmonyOS and AppGallery store.
Mr Yin said AppGallery has quickly gained a following, currently serving around 580 million monthly active users in more than 170 markets globally.
“Besides products, Huawei also focuses on improving the user experience and invests in intangible areas that benefit our customers,” he said.
In the UAE, the company has forged partnerships with local enterprises such as Dubai's Emirates airline, Emaar Properties, Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank, Majid Al Futtaim's Carrefour and delivery service Talabat to expand its footprint in the market.
The UAE has been a centre for smartphone brands to expand in the region. Xiaomi, the world's third-biggest vendor of mobile phones, recently opened its biggest Middle East store in Dubai.
Huawei's Seeds for the Future, a programme that aims to develop skilled and local ICT talent, has supported about 12,000 students in 130 countries, with more than 1,500 coming from the UAE, Mr Yin said.
Huawei's P60 Pro smartphone, originally announced in March, comes with an improved camera, one of the company's key consumer selling points.
The device's camera system has been ranked No 1 by industry aggregator DxoMark. Huawei has three of the top 10 smartphones on DxoMark's rankings.
Meanwhile, the Mate X3 is Huawei's latest foldable device, which the company says is the world’s thinnest and lightest in the category. The company also said its inner screen was “impact-resistant”.
The foldable smartphone market, while growing, still accounts only for a marginal share in the overall smartphone sector.
Foldables held a 1.2 per cent market share in the industry, with 14.2 million units shipped in 2022, out of a total 1.19 billion mobile device shipments last year, according to the International Data Corporation.
However, by 2027, foldable shipments are expected to jump to 48.1 million units at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 27.6 per cent, compared with a CAGR of 2.1 per cent for traditional devices, whose shipments are set to rise to 1.32 billion, it said.
That would make the market share of foldables increase to 3.5 per cent, the IDC study showed.
Huawei’s market share of foldable phones in China has exceeded 50 per cent, Mr Yin said.
“We own the most mature folding technology and the most forms in the industry,” he said.