Etisalat, telecom operator in the Middle East, has appointed Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar as Group CEO, a newly created role, which is part of the company’s expansion plans.
In his new role, Julfar will head the team of 18 existing Etisalat CEOs, in 18 different around the world. Before being promoted to this position, Julfar served as the COO of Etisalat since 2006. Prior to that, he served as the GM for the operator’s Dubai operations. He has also served in several other managerial posts in the company, since his joining Etisalat in 1986.
According to a statement by Julfar, as reported in a leading Gulf daily, “Etisalat has a huge potential for growth at a global level and this is one of our key objectives. Meanwhile, in our home market of the UAE, we will continue the pursuit of ensuring that our subscribers have access to the most advanced technology available in the world, and to do it we have adopted a segmented approach to make sure that particular needs of different demographic and business sectors were considered. I am really honored to lead this phase of the Group, working with local teams and partners to build on the remarkable success and achievements throughout the 18 countries in which we operate.”
This appointment is significant as it comes a day after Indian telecom authority, DoT, said that it was readying show-cause notices for the cancellation of 13 licenses issued to Etisalat DB (formerly Swam Telecom) in India, for its involvement in the 2G scam, by acting as a front company for Reliance Communications. While both operators in question have denied allegations of their involvement in the scam, the DoT will provide Etisalat with 60 days to respond to the legal notice, after which, following a decree by the Supreme Court, it may instruct Etisalat to wind up operations in India. It remains to be seen how the new Group CEO and his Board handle this issue.
This set-back could be a major thorn-in-the-flesh to Etisalat’s growth plans. The operator had revealed in March that it aims to spend $15 billion over the next five years to make the UAE one of the most connected countries in the world. It had also said in May that it would spend $4 billion on introducing LTE services in the UAE this year in Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Sharjah, to begin with. In addition, Etisalat said in May that it would spend between $540 million and $810 million each year on improving 2G, 3G and 4G, as well as on cables and IT.
The telco had 7.4 million UAE mobile subscribers at the end of March 2011.
By Beryl M