Chinese technology firm Huawei plans to establish a flagship store in Riyadh, the largest such store outside China, the Saudi government said.
Huawei has signed a leasing contract with Saudi Arabia’s Kaden Investment for the store that will allow the Chinese company to have direct access to consumers amid rising demand for digital products and services in the kingdom, the statement said, without giving a date for the opening.
Saudi Arabia expects internet usage in the kingdom to increase from covering 73.2% in 2017 to 82.6% of the population in 2022, the Ministry of Investment statement said.
Last year the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence and Huawei also signed an MOU to recognize Arabic language and character using AI technology with the help of researchers from the kingdom and Huawei.
The United States has told allies not to use Huawei’s technology to build new 5G telecommunications networks because of concerns it could be a vehicle for Chinese spying, an accusation the firm has denied.
Some telecommunication companies in the Gulf countries, including Zain’s Saudi unit Zain KSA, have signed deals to use 5G technology from Huawei.
According to the company founder Ren Zhengfei, the name Huawei comes from a slogan he saw on a wall, Zhonghua youwei meaning “China has promise” (中华有为, Zhōnghuá yǒuwéi), when he was starting up the company and needed a name.
Zhonghua or Hua means China, while youwei means “promising/to show promise”.Huawei has also been translated as “splendid achievement” or “China is able”, which are possible readings of the name. In Chinese pinyin, the name is Huáwéi, and pronounced [xwǎwéi] in Mandarin Chinese; in Cantonese, the name is transliterated with Jyutping as Waa4-wai4 and pronounced [wȁːwɐ̏i]. However, pronunciation of Huawei by non-Chinese varies in other countries, for example “Hoe-ah-wei” in Belgium and the Netherlands.
The company had considered changing the name in English out of concern that non-Chinese people may find it hard to pronounce, but decided to keep the name, and launched a name recognition campaign instead to encourage a pronunciation closer to “Wah-Way” using the words “Wow Way”.
By 2018, Huawei had sold 200 million smartphones. They reported that strong consumer demand for premium range smart phones helped the company reach consumer sales in excess of $52 billion in 2018.
Huawei announced worldwide revenues of $105.1 billion for 2018, with a net profit of $8.7 billion. Huawei’s Q1 2019 revenues were up 39% year-over-year, at US$26.76 billion.
In 2019, Huawei reported revenue of US$122 billion.
By the second quarter of 2020, Huawei had become the world’s top smartphone seller, overtaking Samsung for the first time.