Gulf Insider speaks to Shaikh Abdulla Al Khalifa, Director of Communication at Zain Bahrain on Corporate Sustainability (CS) initiatives

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Can you shed light on your vision for Zain as its Director of Corporate Communications and Investor Relations?

Our vision as a telecom provider is to focus and expand in three areas. Firstly, its people. When we come up with a solution or a service, we look at it from the perspective of various stakeholders such as our shareholders, employees, end-users and various private and public institutions we work with, making sure that our services our socially and environmentally aligned with our overall CS goals.”

Zain Bahrain is essentially driven by the community we serve.

Secondly, we see ourselves as a highly innovative company. We see ourselves as an organization that thrives in disruption, as well as launching new solutions that others are yet to consider. The Zbot designed recently for Zain app is a perfect example as it can communicate both in Arabic and English.

Thirdly, we are capitalizing on Zain Group. We are part of a group with 50 million customers across 8 countries. Zain Group is the leading provider in various technologies and they also do huge major deals with big companies such as Amazon, Microsoft, and Ericsson. In fact, Zain was the first telecommunications company to work with Amazon Web Services, in hosting our applications in the AWS cloud, before any telco in the region. At the end of the day , we leverage this power so that we as Zain Bahrain can offer these services to our users.

Ultimately, the three things that Zain stands for is people, digital innovation and leveraging being part of Zain Group in launching new services and solutions.

Tell us about the Corporate Sustainability (CS) activities that Zain has recently launched, particularly the E-waste National Initiative.

Zain identified that as an operator it needs to give back to the community. The environment was something that we wanted to focus on and rather than just doing the classical approach of recycling plastics, cans and paper, we thought we should look into all sorts of e-waste.

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The main idea behind this initiative is to responsibly recycle electronic waste which would otherwise end up in landfills where they remain for hundreds of years.

As a part of the electronic waste campaign, we have invited 17 schools, both private and public, to be part of a national competition.

This competition will have three categories: Most e-Waste (Weight) Collected, Best Awareness Campaign, and Best Digital Solution for e-waste.

How is Zain recycling the massive amount of e-waste in Bahrain?

Being the first organization in the Kingdom launching such an initiative on a national scale since 2011, we have signed up a strategic agreement with the Crown Industries who basically deals with recycling. They are licensed by the Supreme Council for Environment to recycle electronic waste. We collect electrical devices like smartphones, tablets, laptops, TVs, displays and simply anything with a circuit board through e-waste drop box at the Zain Tower.

The Crown Industries collects these e-waste from Zain and ships it to a third party outside bahain where it is recycled ethically and responsibly.

Furthermore, the Crown Industries also provides official certificate and evidence, based on global standards, that they indeed have recycled it (through their partners) in the most environmentally conscious manner.

Tell us more about the Zain Youth development program. What do you aim to achieve through this initiative?

With more than 1000 university students over the years, this program is not just another internship. It lets you work with people in Zain while getting trained in latest technologies like AI and Big Data. Apart from that, we also have them participate in social activities like the e-waste campaign and other Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s) initiatives we get involved in.

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Zain is in fact a signatory of the SDG’s since 2016, which no other telco has committed to in Bahrain, and we issue an annual Sustainability Report which covers all the SDG initiatives we do across the entire Middle East region.

Our main aim is to contribute to the development of youth in the country. We even have participants who have gone to become people in leading positions across the Kingdom. This initiative will make sure that the youth gains knowledge on the corporate level, the various trends and will also support them in their university studies.

We’ve also learned that you have a new STEAM Camp for young girls in Bahrain. What’s significant about this?

We noticed that in Bahrain, the representation of male and female is heavily imbalanced in the tech-field when compared to other sectors like the finance, customer services and marketing.

So that’s how we decided to do a program to educate girls in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Maths and Arts) education which will increase the level of STEAM skills in girls, and change the perception of the field early in their lives. The end result would be an increase of participation equally between girls and boys in the field. This would lead to girls going into engineering/tech fields in the university level and ultimately applying for jobs in the tech field.

We have collaborated with the Supreme Council for Women and Clever Play for this initiative. We will be sponsoring around 1000 girls for 4 months (10 hours for each) to do an after-school activity on STEAM education for free.

Our drive is to make sure that girls in the age of 8-16 gets exposed to STEAM education without any fees or any other barriers.


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