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During LEAP 2022, Fadi Pharaon, president of the Middle East and Africa at Ericsson, had an exclusive interview with Telecom Review regarding Ericsson’s presence within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and how will the ongoing tech innovation in the country impacts the region as a whole.

What makes LEAP an ideal stage to showcase Ericsson's innovation?

We are super honored to be here at LEAP. We committed to it by having an active participation via both a physical booth as well as our thought leadership speeches on the event’s stage including a speech by our Group CEO and president who physically joined the event. We look at it in the context of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 and everything that they want to achieve in the years to come.

We see that ICT holds a very important role in order to do so. Coming here to the LEAP exhibition and conference gives a chance to all of us working in the ICT ecosystem to showcase and identify all of the opportunities and the challenges of consumers, industries, and enterprises and demonstrates how ICT can actually alleviate that.

It gives us an opportunity in our booth here to show multiple demos and ongoing use cases from around the world and how we can contribute to the customers within the Saudi market.

Having said that, which verticals or solutions would be leveraged by Ericsson, specifically within KSA?

This is exactly what we are discussing with our customers. For example, we’re examining how to take the next steps to monetize 5G, which has been up and running in Saudi for three years already. We're ready because of a lot of interest to engage with enterprises in the industrial world.

Moreover, we have different use cases, ranging from verticals like mining, manufacturing plants, and healthcare. We are working on trying to bring in all these use cases on the ground and see how we can deploy them and how we can scale that from here.

As a leading 5G transformation partner, how will 5G deployment be accelerated in the MEA region?

We have multiple facets of 5G. One is the radio part, the other part is the core on the cloud. I would say in the Gulf nations, 5G is really in the top league globally, in terms of deployment. We see also very progressive regulation across the region, where they're providing more spectrum so that the operators can have even bigger bandwidth offered through 5G. Hence, we believe that it's definitely a very exciting journey together in this market.

In your perspective, how will the telecom industry as a whole evolve within the Kingdom and how will this impact the whole region?

There's a realization here to bring a lot of knowledge and really build a knowledge-based economy, which will utilize ICT as a way to bring the Kingdom forward towards its visions. We see that there's a lot of collaboration right now in this ecosystem to bring talents. We are also investing in talent as we bring in graduates for instance in the Ericsson operations here in Saudi Arabia. We have also actually concluded a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) where we will conduct research together in the realm of 6G.

Those are examples of how we can collaborate in the Kingdom to ensure that we have what it requires — the talent, the solutions, and execution powers to make the Kingdom take a global lead in terms of deployment of new technology.

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