Etisalat has swiftly headed off a dispute with Al Rajhi Investment Group, after the powerful Saudi firm said faltering internet facilities at its companies in the UAE were threatening further investment in the region.
Marwan Al Siddiqi, Information Technology Director at Al Rajhi Investment Group, had complained that the group’s Tameer and Inshaa holding companies had experienced unacceptable internet speed in industrial sites, hampering growth.
He said sluggish broadband speed was making operations less competitive than counterparts in Dubai or the rest of the UAE, and that factories in Ras Al Khaimah were particularly affected.
Al Siddiqi voiced his objection to delegates at the Middle East CIO Summit.
He told Emirates Business: “This is hindering the growth of our business because our owners are saying how can we invest in an area that will cause us a problem in operating it. Eventually it will make our owners think again about investing more of their money into the region. This could be a barrier to further investment.”
Inshaa Holding operates Mabani Steel, Clabstec, Woodworks and Pods in Ras Al Khaimah, with each company investing about Dh1 million a year in information technology resources.
Al Siddiqi said his operations in Ras Al Khaimah had to rely on more expensive satellite connectivity in view of the poor internet speed provided by etisalat, adding: “The cost implications of this are exponential and it doesn’t give us a lot of flexibility.”
Ahmad Abdulkarim Julfar, chief operations officer of etisalat, who also attended the summit, said he had heard the complaint and immediately deployed an emergency task force to address the problem.
“This is very important to etisalat, and I immediately took the gentleman’s details and passed it to our technical team in Ras Al Khaimah. When you have millions of customers you will always find one or two who are not happy about something, but overall we have a very high customer satisfaction level,” said Julfar.
It was understood that Inshaa’s companies had operations in a mountainous region of the emirate with limited infrastructure, which affected the internet facilities. Etisalat and Al Rajhi Investment Group have since come to a speedy agreement over the internet connectivity in Ras Al Khaimah following Al Siddiqi’s grievance.
Al Rajhi Investment Group has over 20 businesses operating in the UAE, mainly working in the industrial sector. The privately-owned firm also conducts investments in the petrochemical and real estate sectors.
The Middle East CIO Summit, which gathered chief information officers from the region to discuss their evolving roles, also heard that the information systems outsourcing industry is estimated to have reached Dh355 billion globally and will pass Dh434bn by 2011.
The event was organised by IDC, the leading global market intelligence firm for the information, communications and consumer technology markets.
Greg Day, EMEA Senior Security Analyst at McAfee, warned delegates of the threats to the productivity of their companies as a result of major security breaches.
“The UAE is not as aware as the rest of the Europe, Middle East and Africa region of the big data leakage incidents we’re starting to see. And the cost of those can be from notifying customers to damage to the brand value to potential lawsuits,” he told Emirates Business on the sidelines of the summit.
McAfee, which provides advanced IT security software solutions, estimates software piracy costs the company approximately 40 per cent to 50 per cent in revenue losses.
Day added that the exponential growth of business activity in Dubai had radical implication for the security threats they faced.