Osman Sultan certainly has staying power. Having launched the UAE’s second telecom, du, in 2006, he has driven Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company to become a key player in the region, with around 6.5 million mobile customers (almost 50 percent market share), 555,000 fixed line subscribers and 180,000 home services subscribers. It must go down as one the most remakarkable start-up success stories in the Middle East, managing to reach profitability in just two years from launch.
But what really marks him out is his vision for how the sector is evolving. Sultan, who joined the telecommunications industry in 1983, is a strong proponent of AI, believes the internet will eventually be free and is excited by how big data can be used to better serve customers of the future. They’re the hard-won inghts of a man with more than 35 years in the telecoms business.
The journey began when he joined the France Telecom Group, and in the intervening years he has held various senior management positions. In 1997, he joined France Telecom Mobiles International (FTMI) as vice president for business development in charge of the Middle East and the Arab World before joining MobiNil, a subsidiary of Orascom, as chairman and chief executive.