LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360 MENA, DUBAI: The CEO of Etisalat International continued a strong theme at this year’s event, with the message 5G offered operators an opportunity to return to the forefront of the telecoms industry.

“The problem with 4G was we had efficiency and cheap data, but if you look at the people who built massive unicorns off the back of it, they had far more opportunities than we did,” stated Hatem Dowidar (pictured). “5G is our opportunity for operators to take the lead and keep as much of the value as we can inside the telecoms industry. As operators we invest a lot in this and 5G is a great opportunity.”

Etisalat was one of the world’s first 5G operators, launching across the UAE earlier this year and also lighting a network in Saudi Arabia. It is also pushing its role as the 5G connectivity supplier for the World Expo 2020 event in Dubai.

Dowidar’s comments chime with those of rival du’s in yesterday’s keynote, where outgoing CEO Osman Sultan urged the industry to avoid past mistakes and focus more on the individual to ensure a profitable 5G future.

The Etisalat International boss also highlighted how an operator’s role is changing. He highlighted his company’s recent acquisition of cybersecurity company Help AG as an example of how operators can disrupt other industries. Etisalat also launched mobile wallet services in several markets.

“While in previous generations we have been disrupted by other markets, we now have the potential to disrupt other industries and have the potential to grow our own industry.”