Babylon NEOM

NEOM Babylon: A $500B Technological and Hedonistic Paradise: Faster Innovation. How will 5G help change MENA? (the ‘many’ who will agree to the beast’s confirmation of the covenant)

NEOM Babylon: A $500B Technological and Hedonistic Paradise: Faster Innovation. How will 5G help change MENA?

Thu 12 Mar 2020 12:58 PM Arabian Business

In October last year, UAE telecoms giant Etisalat successfully completed the first end-to-end 5G stand-alone mobile phone call in the Middle East and North Africa, becoming the first operator in the region to achieve the milestone.

Experts believe there will be 30 million 5G mobile subscriptions in the Middle East by 2024, with operators promising that download speeds will be 10 to 20 times faster than we have now.

But what does 5G really mean for users or does it just mean faster Wifi and even more smart devices?

“The roll out of 5G means a whole new experience for the user,” Guy Diedrich, Global Innovation Officer at American multinational technology conglomerate Cisco, told Arabian Business in a new video.

“4G was just an increase in speed, 5G means that for the first time people in rural regions are going to have access to first [world] quality healthcare… they are going to have access to education.

“Mobile users will have all of the capabilities of PCs on their phone. In terms of where you can work, and what you can accomplish in terms of productivity, it is going to fundamentally change that landscape,” Diedrich believes.

No.1 in MENA

The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has put in place a five (5)-year strategy for the roll-out of 5G and the emirates is already the number country in the Arab world, and fourth globally, when it comes to the launch and use of 5G networks, according to the Global Connectivity Index issued by Carphone Warehouse.

“For the UAE, 5G will mean the benefits of increased speed and improved latency. It will mean the UAE, particularly in Dubai, where they are talking about being one of the early adopters of autonomous vehicles, where they want to be the most connected city in the world, 5G is going to allow for that.”

With more connectivity comes more security challenges, and the real innovation will be making sure we don’t compromise on security in order to keep everyone online and connected to each other.

Security is paramount

“The key there is to make sure that security is paramount and, as they connect all of the things in the city and become the most connected city in the world, that they have the right security built into the 5G network,” Diedrich says.

“The next big technical innovation is going to have to be in response to the fact that we are going from 27 billion connected things to 500 billion connected things by 2030.”

Diedrich believes that all these new connections are “individual opportunities” for new technological innovations, but he warns that if adequate levels of security to support these connections are not put in place then they will simply become “new vulnerabilities”.

“And so the new innovations that are going to have to take place in the near term are going to be around security, so that we can secure each and every individual transaction and security is built into the network, rather than just relying on a firewall,” he says.

Fundamental human right

Diedrich goes even further by the saying that he believes that being connected, just like privvacy, is a fundamental human right and the short-term and long-term implications of the roll out of 5G for mankind should not be underestimated.

“Only 60 percent of the world is connected to the internet and I believe that in the next ten years we are going to connect that other 40 percent and, in doing so, in connecting the entire world, we could see as much as $6.7 trillion of global GDP added and could bring as many as 500 million people out of poverty. So I think there is much to be excited about moving forward.”

Ahead of the launch of Expo 2020 Dubai, the Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series aims to give a platform to these kind of discussions and the implications, challenges and benefits new technological innovations will have for all of mankind.

“Cisco is proud to be a partner of Expo 2020 here in Dubai,” Diedrich points out. “We are the networking partner and also the security partner. It is going to be the most connected Expo in the 167 year history of expos. We aim to provide a whole new experience for visitors…. Have them see what the future holds, what is possible with 5G, with artificial intelligence and all the other technologies that 5G will enable.”

Expo logistics partner

The Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series is being developed in association with another key Expo 2020 player, global logistics company UPS, the official logistics partner for the event. While UPS is a company that is more than a century old, has a global remit and has nearly half a billion employees, it has always been a catalyst for change and innovation.

“Innovation and technology have always been part of UPS’ focus” states Jean Francois Condamine, UPS President High Growth and Emerging Markets. “Our experience around the world has taught us that winning ideas come from working with others.”

“As part of the Enterprise Innovators Series we are looking for companies who have seen the rewards from taking risks, who are rethinking and disrupting traditional models and who are developing new ways of operating,” says Shane McGinley, Editorial Director of Arabian Business.

Check out the latest episodes in the Enterprise Innovators series at

Get involved: What are you and your company doing to innovate?

The Arabian Business Enterprise Innovators Series, in association with UPS, is looking for local companies to get involved in the initiative. Our coverage will run across print, online, social media and video and we are looking for organisations to tell us about the programmes, ideas and practices they are working on and the impact and improvements they have witnessed across some of the sectors below:

Facial recognition: Speed and security are two key considerations for many companies. Technological advances such as facial recognition are providing answers to these challenges.

Artificial Intelligence: More than just robots replacing jobs, many companies are using AI to reduce mundane work practices.

Electric vehicles: While the region has a high percentage of car usage, it has been slow to embrace electric models. What are doing to be more sustainable in their transport strategies?

Sustainability: How can the homes we live in and the buildings we work in become more efficient in terms of energy, waste and the materials we use to build them?

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