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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 January 2019

Exclusive: Unaffected by Meng detention Huawei's Honor eyes twofold growth in MEA 

The Chinese company aims to capture as much as 20 per cent of the regional market

Chris Sunbaigong, president of Honor MEA, targets trendy millennials in MEA. Leslie Pableo for The National 
Chris Sunbaigong, president of Honor MEA, targets trendy millennials in MEA. Leslie Pableo for The National 

Honor, a unit of China's technology company Huawei, aims to double its revenues in the Middle East and Africa next year and is unaffected by the detention of a top executive of its parent company.

This year “saw some exciting launches that will continue to help us augment our MEA market share in 2019,” Chris Sunbaigong, president of Honor MEA, told The National. We are targeting to capture at least 15 to 20 per cent of the overall regional market share, in terms of smartphone shipments, next year.”

Honor, whose smartphones compete with Oppo and Samsung, recorded more than fivefold growth in the UAE market in the first 10 months of 2018.

“We are currently number four in this region and our aim is to feature among the top three brands by the end of next year," said Mr Sunbaigong.

Honor devices drove Huawei sales to new highs in this year, helping the company surpass Apple for the first time to take up second position globally, according to International Data Corporation.

Beyond the UAE, Honor's best performing markets include Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Iraq and South Africa, said Mr Sunbaigong.

The company is looking next year “for steady expansion" in Oman, Kuwait and North African countries such as Morocco and Tunisia, he said.

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On Tuesday the company rolled out its Honor 10 Lite phone in Dubai following its debut in China. Customers can pre-order the phone, which costs Dh799, and will be delivered starting December 20.

Honor 8X, a phone tailored for the millennial generation and in the market since October, has significantly increased the company’s MEA market share, said Mr Sunbaigong.

The “majority of MEA’s population is millennials – our main target. They are very discerning about technology and innovation. Therefore, we prioritise the preferences of this region while launching any product in the market.”

Honor is currently selling its products through key retailers in the region and the company is considering its own showrooms in the future.

“Based on our business volume, we will obviously make more investment and have more people on board in the region,” said Mr Sunbaigong.

The ongoing trade war between the United States and China and the detention of Meng Wanzhou, Huawei’s chief financial officer, in Canada earlier this month will not affect Honor’s business, Mr Sunbaigong said.

“As part of Huawei Group, we are following all trade laws and regulations… with Europe, Americas and the UN. So I don’t see any kind of [adverse] impact in future. From the operational point of view, there has been no impact of that incident [CFO’s arrest] on our business.”

Ms Meng was detained on December 1 by Canada at the request of the US for allegedly conspiring to defraud American banks and violating sanctions related to doing business in Iran. The arrest of Ms Meng, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, rattled markets and raised questions about a temporary detente between Washington and Beijing that was announced at the G20 summit. The reconciliation was expected to pause the trade war that was expected to escalate in January. Washington had planned to raise tariffs on $200 billion worth of Chinese imports to 25 per cent from 10 per cent next month.

Ms Meng, 46, is out on bail and has to stay in Vancouver, awaiting a possible extradition to the US, where if convicted, she faces 30 years in jail. She has denied any wrongdoing and Huawei has vehemently backed the executive.

Updated: December 18, 2018 05:31 PM

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