CNME Editor Mark Forker secured an exclusive interview with Eng. Yaarob Al-Sayegh, the newly appointed CEO of Virgin Mobile, Saudi Arabia.
Al-Sayegh has been tasked with the responsibility of driving the digital transformation strategy of the mobile network operator in support of the ambitious Saudi Vision 2030 plan.
The former Mobily senior executive is one of the most distinguished and decorated figures within the telecommunications ecosystem across the Middle East, and his appointment as CEO of Virgin Mobile KSA, is seen as a major coup by many industry experts.
Virgin Mobile has enjoyed a lot of success in the UAE market, and has narrowed in on the millennial demographic of the market, and Virgin Mobile are confident they can replicate that success in Saudi Arabia, which boats a burgeoning young tech-savvy population.
“We have a great opportunity to grow our customer base, especially amongst the millennial demographic in the country. The beauty with these customer segments is that they are one of the fastest growing in Saudi Arabia. This is where our focus will be and our strategy is set on, and we feel that there will be excellent potential for growth for us in the Saudi market, despite the current challenges presented by ongoing COVID-19 situation,” said Al-Sayegh.
In this digital era, where the main currency is ‘experiences’, it’s critical for businesses to ensure they deliver seamless experiences in order to meet the demands of their users, which are constantly evolving. Al-Sayegh highlighted their SIM delivery service as an example of this.
“We want to deploy digital technologies that not only makes sense to our customers, but ultimately enhances their experiences. During COVID-19, we launched a SIM delivery services that promised to deliver that SIM within two hours of you placing that order. This was positively received by users in Saudi Arabia. In addition to this, we also gave users the opportunity to collect the SIM from our stores, as our main objective is to empower our users and give them flexibility and full autonomy with their choices,” said Al-Sayegh.
The new Virgin Mobile KSA CEO added that they had launched another solution called the Family Tag, which is ultimately designed to allow parents to know where their child is at all times.
“One other product we’ve launched that has really resonated with the Saudi marketplace is our Virgin Mobile Family Tag solution, which is basically a small device that you can give your children, and acts as a tracking device in order to allow you to know where your loved ones are at all times. We believe such products and services fit well into our philosophy, which is to simplify all our services for our customers to ensure we provide them with good digital experiences. We want to allow them to have visibility on what they’re spending on a monthly basis, and the flexibility to select a package tailored to their needs,” said Al-Sayegh.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced businesses to allow their employees to work remotely, but this has inevitably placed a huge strain on network capacity, latency and bandwidth. Al-Sayegh praised the role of their host operator STC, and the Saudi government in terms of their response to the increased demand that was placed on networks.
“We’re partners with STC, and they’ve done a truly terrific job in terms of optimizing the network during the recent COVID-19 crisis. They also received a lot of support from the government, who increased the location of frequency for telecommunications providers, which enabled STC, and other operators to absorb the high demand in residential areas for increased network capacity,” said Al-Sayegh.
When asked what role Virgin Mobile KSA played in assisting STC, the telecommunications veteran said they offered specific packages on mobile data plans.
“Virgin launched several packages and promotions to our customers in order to support them during these difficult and unprecedented times. We launched promotions on data bundles, because we felt that this was the perfect time for people to use more of their mobile data, and we worked in co-ordination with STC to help them manage the traffic on their networks,” said Al-Sayegh.
In terms of what impact COVID-19 will have on the rollout and commercial deployment of 5G networks in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Al-Sayegh believes that it does make it more difficult – but expects operators to continue with their strategies.
“If you look at the deployment of 5G in the Saudi market, then you can see that we are one of the few countries across the region that is really leading the way in 5G. COVID-19 has obviously made the continued deployment of 5G more difficult, but we have the technology, and operators are pressing ahead with their deployment plans. Our host operator STC has already launched 5G, and with 5G you have different products coming out of it, and one of them is mobile broadband. We’re working closely with STC to avail of, and launch 5G in the Saudi market very soon,” said Al-Sayegh.