Ihab Hinnawi, Fmr Group CEO, Bahrain Telecom (Batelco)

Ihab Hinnawi, Fmr Group CEO, Bahrain Telecom (Batelco)

Ihab Hinnawi, Fmr Group CEO, Bahrain Telecom (Batelco)

Ihab Hinnawi was appointed as CEO of Batelco’s International investments in May 2019 till Dec 2020 and having held the role of Group CEO since December 2015.



The Telecom industry is one of the most used industries these days. Every person we meet today has a mobile phone and people are generally hooked onto them. 

Telecom has seen a lot of changes during the past two decades. Let us hear from our guest for today Mr. Ihab Hinnawi, who has given many years of his life in the telecom industry and has seen it change in front of his eyes.

Ihab is the former CEO of Bahrain Telecom (Batelco). He has also served as the CEO of Batelco’s International Investments in the past. He has been a significant part of the telecom industry and he has seen it grow.

Changes in telecom industry in last two decades

Ihab says that if he were to notice changes in telecom industry as a layman she would have talked about the change in size of the mobile. But, being a part of the industry first change he saw was the different eras of telecom. Initially there was the era of voice, next came SMS which was followed by the introduction of internet. Second change he saw was the dependency on the mobility of telecom. Another major change Ihab talks about is telecom and devices shifting from luxury to necessity.

Commoditization of telecom world

Ihab calls commoditization of the telecom industry, the evolution of the market. He says when things become necessity and their demand is increased it is natural for them to get commoditized.

Ihab’s views on consolidation of telecom companies

On being asked if existing telecom countries will survive or consolidate, Ihab replies that he believes that the world would see more consolidation in the coming years. He believes that we would not see any consolidation within the telecom industry but also across different sectors. He also says that telecom companies might survive long term as he does not see any reason for them going out of business.

Ihab’s perspective on growing importance of data

As Ashutosh says that he has heard that ‘data’ is the new gold rush and oil, Ihab enthusiastically replies by saying that he believes data to be more valuable than gold. He backs his statement by saying that data helps to know the customer and the more you know the behavior patterns of your customer, the better the way you can serve them. He also talks about the privacy issues people are having these days, but he says through a business perspective, data is extremely valuable.

The future of Telecom

In Ihab’s opinion, telcos would definitely see changes in the near future. He believes that everything would be on cloud, everything would be connected to 5G, everything we do on any device will be connected to each other and would be monitored which will enhance the quality of life. He says that anything and everything which runs with batteries will be connected to each other. There would be cars without drivers, the medical and healthcare sector would get better, efficiency would go higher etc.

What are the qualities a person running a global business must possess?

On being asked about the qualities a person running a global business must possess, Ihab starts his answer by saying that first of all the person must be good at heart. Secondly, he should be able to accept different cultures as he would be operating in multiple cultures. Next he says the person should be very persistent. The fourth quality that Ihab mentions is resilience.

How is it to manage the millennials and Gen Zs?

Ihab gives us a very interesting fact during the conversation. He tells us that the average age of telcos board room is 65, the average age of the management is 45 and the average age of their clients is 15. So, they are working in a structure where 65 years olds are being managed by 45 years olds and they all are working for 15 years olds. Ihab says that if you do not understand the change in the society you cannot work. He also states that the younger generation is dictating the corporate way of thinking.


Ihab Hinnawi was appointed as CEO of Batelco’s International investments in May 2019 till Dec 2020 and having held the role of Group CEO since December 2015. Ihab joined Umniah as Chief Executive Officer in 2009, drawing on over 20 years of extensive managerial experience to lead the company’s industry-pioneering operations. Prior to assuming the CEO role at Umniah, Mr. Hinnawi held the role of General Manager Enterprise Division at Batelco Bahrain and subsequently the role of CEO at Batelco Jordan. In 2004 Mr. Hinnawi helped to establish Umniah as a key member of its initial management team, and continued to work as the Operations Director of Umniah until 2007. His repertoire of key expertise portfolio includes increasing revenue, effecting management change, developing new businesses, managing high stake negotiations, strategic planning, developing key partnerships, building corporate and marketing strategy, effecting risk management, and leading organizational restructuring.

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