Amazon Web Services (AWS), an Amazon.com company, has announced that it plans to open an infrastructure region in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first half of 2022. The new AWS Middle East (UAE) Region will consist of three Availability Zones and become AWS’s second region in the Middle East with the existing AWS Region in Bahrain, giving customers more choice and flexibility to leverage advanced technologies from the world’s leading cloud. Globally, AWS has 80 Availability Zones across 25 geographic regions, with plans to launch 18 more Availability Zones and six more AWS Regions in Australia, India, Indonesia, Spain, Switzerland, and the United Arab Emirates.
“We are excited to build on the great momentum of cloud adoption in the Middle East by providing more choice for customers in the UAE to run applications and store data locally,” said Peter DeSantis, Senior Vice President of Global Infrastructure, AWS. “The new AWS Region supports the UAE’s focus on promoting technology innovation that has made it a thriving global hub for entrepreneurs, e-governments, and multi-national businesses. With the new region, organizations of all sizes will be able to innovate faster and serve end-users with even lower latency across the region.”
His Excellency Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, said, “AWS’s expansion into the UAE is a testament to our rapidly growing innovation ecosystem that will benefit from access to the world’s leading cloud platform and its advanced technologies and solutions. Building on Abu Dhabi’s smart infrastructure and digital transformation, AWS’s investment will further enable innovators and companies with globally-relevant solutions to realize new opportunities in the UAE and beyond.”
AWS Regions are comprised of Availability Zones, which place infrastructure in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting customers’ business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications that leverage multiple Availability Zones. Each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling, and physical security and is connected through redundant, ultra-low-latency networks. AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple Availability Zones and across multiple regions to achieve even greater fault tolerance. The addition of the AWS Middle East (UAE) Region will enable local customers with data residency requirements to store their data in the UAE while also providing even lower latency across the country. Organizations using this region will also be able to access advanced technologies from the broadest and deepest suite of cloud services to drive innovation including compute, storage, networking, database, analytics, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile services and more.
His Excellency Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), said, “We welcome the upcoming AWS Region, which will bring advanced cloud infrastructure to the UAE. This comes in line with our goal of attracting investments that boost technology capabilities. It is another example of the growing partnership between the public and private sectors in the emirate aimed to accelerate breakthroughs and advance large-scale digital transformation, strengthening Abu Dhabi’s position as a global hub for innovation. We look forward to collaborating with AWS across the knowledge economy, including education initiatives, cloud skills training, and startup enablement programs.”
Millions of active customers are using AWS each month in over 190 countries around the world, including tens of thousands of customers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Enterprises choose AWS to become more agile and innovative, and include Al Tayer Group, Aramex, AXA Gulf, Axiom Telecom, Emirates NBD, Flydubai, Gulf News, MBC Group, OSN, Seera Group, Virgin Middle East, and many more. MENA public sector organizations are using AWS to drive cost savings, accelerate innovation, and better serve the citizens of the region. They include the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority of Kuwait (CITRA), Dubai Expo 2020, Egypt Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, Government of Bahrain’s Ministries, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University, University of Bahrain, and many more. MENA startups building their businesses on top of AWS to scale rapidly and expand around the world include Alef Education, Anghami, Careem, Dubizzle, EKar, Fetchr, Haraj, Health at Hand, Maestro Pizza, Mawdoo3.com, Property Finder, Sarwa, Souqalmal, StarzPlay, and Yallacompare.
AWS customers welcomed the news of the AWS Region in UAE, including global customers who will be able to leverage the region to serve new audiences, such as Salesforce, the global customer relationship management (CRM) leader. “Salesforce is powering digital transformations for our global customer base that require the modern enterprise features of AWS,” said Srinivas Tallapragada, President and Chief Engineering Officer of Salesforce. “We’re excited to partner with Amazon and bring our trusted platform to new markets, empowering customers to succeed from anywhere by leveraging Hyperforce and all the advantages of public cloud computing.”
First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) is the UAE’s largest bank with total assets of AED 955 billion (USD $260 billion) and one of the strongest combined ratings of any bank in the Middle East and North Africa region. “Our cloud approach has been one of the fundamental principles of our technology strategy since the beginning of last year. We have been using AWS Outposts for both development and test and production workloads,” said Yuri Misnik, Chief Technology Officer, FAB. “This has accelerated our digital transformation in the cloud and on-premises with 50% improved time-to-market. We have also seen 60% increased developer and infrastructure team productivity by leveraging the same infrastructure, services, APIs, and tools across the cloud and on-premises. We welcome the upcoming AWS Region in the UAE, which will help us realize our cloud ambitions effectively and securely while being fully compliant with local regulation.”
In February, Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre (MBRSC) successfully launched the Hope Probe, the first interplanetary mission for the UAE. AWS is powering the data journey of the mission, enabling data to be processed and analyzed from the probe’s instruments and accessed by the global scientific community in less than 20 minutes. “The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space Centre has always sought to provide innovative solutions that benefit the scientific community. Through our projects, we are playing an important role in global space exploration, and AWS cloud technology has been instrumental in powering many of these capabilities,” said Salem AlMarri, Assistant Director General for Scientific and Technical Affairs, MBRSC. “MBRSC has always supported collaborations with private companies to encourage investments in the UAE’s space sector, further Arab achievements in this field, and keep pace with the progressive approach undertaken by some of the most technologically and scientifically developed nations.”
Majid Al Futtaim is the leading shopping mall, communities, retail and leisure pioneer across the Middle East, Africa, and Central Asia. “We started our digital transformation several years ago, recognizing that to remain ahead of the curve, we would need a dedicated focus on data. AWS has enabled us to build a centralized data management platform, helping to enhance our performance by connecting our operations and customer base through a single source of data across the company’s different businesses,” said Guillaume Thfoin, Head of Data and Analytics for Majid Al Futtaim Holding. “Leveraging advanced analytics and machine learning services such as Amazon SageMaker, we have used predictive models to arrive at new insights that drive performance improvements and an enhanced customer experience. The new platform has helped us become more agile, and a recent case study on our data transformation uncovered an improvement in go-to-market speed by 80%, as well as contributed to multimillion-dollar cost savings projected over the next five years. We look forward to the arrival of an AWS Region next year which will add to the potential of our AWS platform, while ensuring compliance with upcoming regulatory requirements.”
GE Healthcare is a leading global medical technology, diagnostics, and digital solutions innovator. Every year, two billion diagnostic scans are performed on GEHC equipment worldwide. “As the UAE looks to grow as a key global hub for healthcare, the upcoming AWS Region is going to have a significant impact on increasing the pace of innovation in the industry,” said Summer Nasief, General Manager, GE Healthcare Digital. “GE Healthcare’s own Edison Health Services platform, one of the largest artificial intelligence platforms in healthcare built to connect data from millions of imaging devices, uses Amazon SageMaker to build, train, and deploy machine learning algorithms across a wide portfolio of intelligent devices and enterprise software applications. With the new AWS Region, a larger ecosystem of regional developers and providers can take advantage of the Edison platform to aggregate and analyze data securely to create prediction models for the population that will help manage clinical outcomes proactively, establish personalized patient care, and lower the cost of care.”
Anghami is the leading music steaming platform in the MENA region, with more than 70 million users who have instant access to over 57 million songs. “We’ve hosted our infrastructure on AWS since pretty much day one and have grown from a tiny startup with big dreams to the number one streaming platform in the Middle East,” said Raja Baz, Deputy CTO at Anghami. “Building on AWS enables us to deliver a reliable service with the flexibility to cope with as much as 300 percent increased traffic when new music is launched. It also frees us to innovate and expand beyond audio to other forms of entertainment like video, which has grown to over 50,000 daily streams. This is something that would have never been possible without the support of AWS, and today we are heading toward our next phase of growth with a listing on the NASDAQ, becoming the first Arab tech company to do so. AWS’s continued investment in the region is a testament to the potential we have here. We recently moved our headquarters and research and development center to Abu Dhabi to benefit from its rapidly growing innovation hub, and with the new AWS Region, we are excited to see it thrive at an accelerated rate.”
Established in 2002 in Dubai under the presidency of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Crown Prince of Dubai, Hamdan Bin Mohammed Smart University (HBMSU) is the UAE’s first accredited Smart University. “Last year, HBMSU successfully completed the full migration of our systems and applications from on-premises data centers to AWS, which provided immediate benefits including security, scalability, flexibility, and direct cost savings of up to 30%,” said Dr. Mansoor Al Awar, HBMSU Chancellor. “We have always understood the power of cloud computing in advancing higher education, and the upcoming AWS Region in the UAE is a valuable asset for the local education sector. It will also support HBMSU’s expansion plans and the ability to respond to the demand for our unique model of smart learning in other markets in the Middle East and Africa.”
Sarwa is an investment and personal finance platform that combines innovative technology and human expertise to make investing easy and affordable to everyone. “Sarwa was born on the AWS Cloud in 2017 and has grown four times over in the last year alone, processing hundreds of thousands of transactions,” said Nadine Mezher, Co-Founder and CMO of Sarwa. “With AWS, we are able to innovate at a fast rate to help everyone in this region grow their wealth and invest in companies they believe in. We recently released the Sarwa App that went from design to market in three months, and we just launched the Sarwa Trade waitlist with a beta platform planned to be released in a six-month timeframe. The news of an upcoming AWS Region in the UAE is very exciting and will be an important milestone in supporting the growth of the FinTech sector in the UAE.”
Middle East-based AWS Partner Network (APN) Partners also welcomed the news of the planned AWS Middle East (UAE) Region. The APN includes tens of thousands of Independent Software Vendors (ISVs) and Systems Integrators (SIs) around the world. AWS Partners build innovative solutions and services on AWS, and the APN helps by providing business, technical, marketing, and go-to-market support. APN SIs, ISVs, and consulting partners in the Middle East help enterprise and public sector customers migrate to AWS, deploy mission-critical applications, and provide a full range of monitoring, automation, and management services for customers’ AWS environments. Examples of AWS Middle East Partners include Accenture, Deloitte, Bespin Global MEA, Citrus Consulting, Cloud4c, Crayon, Du, Etisalat, F5, Integra Technologies, Keplerworx, Palo Alto Networks, Rackspace, Redington, SAP, Splunk, TCS, Trend Micro, VMWare, Wipro, and Zero & One.
Deloitte is an AWS Premier Consulting Partner and a strategic global systems integrator. Through a strategic collaboration, AWS and Deloitte empower customers to transform their business and innovate faster by combining AWS technologies with Deloitte’s deep industry experience. Richard Hurley, Clients and Industries Leader from Deloitte Middle East Consulting, said, “The UAE’s digital transformation drive is clear and well in motion, both for private enterprise and public sector organizations. We expect that having an AWS Region in the UAE is going to significantly accelerate cloud migration and application modernization that will have meaningful economic impact. The new region will help Deloitte further meet the needs of our UAE customers across many industries—including digital banking platforms, smart factories, and converged health—seeking to digitally transform, requiring reliable and secure infrastructure with the ability to process data locally.”
Supporting startups, skills, and students
The new AWS Middle East Region (UAE) Region will build upon AWS’s existing investment in the country, which includes two AWS Direct Connect locations and two Amazon CloudFront edge locations launched in 2018. AWS also continues to build teams of account managers, technical account managers, partner managers, systems engineers, solutions architects, professional services, and more roles to help customers of all sizes move to AWS. In addition to infrastructure, AWS continues to make investments in education initiatives, training, and start-up enablement programs to support the UAE’s digital transformation and economic development plans. To foster entrepreneurship and the growth of new businesses in the UAE, AWS will be further expanding the AWS Activate program to support the UAE’s startups and SMBs. Through the AWS Training and Certification programs, AWS will also work with government entities to support the up-skilling and re-training of the workforce with the latest cloud computing training curriculum. For students and educators, AWS will provide higher education institutions and their educators with cloud computing courses to prepare students to pursue industry-recognized certifications and careers in cloud computing.