Google expands in Middle East with new cloud data centres in Qatar

The move is expected to contribute $18.9 billion to Qatar’s economic output between 2023 and 2030

The launch of Qatar’s first cloud region follows the recent opening of a Google country office and virtual centre of excellence in Msheireb, Doha. Reuters
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Google said on Monday it is launching a cloud region in Qatar, its first in the Gulf state, boosting the country's efforts to transform itself into a digital economy through innovation.

A cloud region is the geographic area in which a cloud data centre is located.

The move is expected to contribute $18.9 billion to Qatar’s economic output between 2023 and 2030, and create 25,000 jobs in 2030 alone, according to findings of research commissioned by Google Cloud and conducted by Access Partnership.

The opening of the Doha cloud region follows Google's recent opening of a country office and virtual centre of excellence in Msheireb, Doha.

Built in partnership with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology and Qatar Free Zone Authority, the cloud region – a complex that houses at least two data centres – aims to meet growing demand for cloud services in Qatar and the wider Middle East region.

“The new cloud region will contribute to giving impetus to economic and productivity growth,” said Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, Qatar’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.

It will also “allow various government and private companies and institutions within Qatar the opportunity to achieve significant efficiency gains by adopting flexible features in dealing with digital technology”.

Google said its cloud services eliminate the need for customers to own or operate physical data centres and servers by themselves, supporting the growth ambitions of micro, small and medium-sized enterprises in Qatar, which make up 97 per cent of all registered private sector companies.

The new Doha region is part of Google Cloud’s global network of 37 regions and 112 zones that bring cloud services to more than 200 countries and territories worldwide.

Alphabet’s Google is spending billions of dollars globally to compete with Amazon and Microsoft in cloud technology. It is considering plans to build more data centres in the Middle East, a key market and one of fastest growing regions for the company’s business.

Competition is heating up among global technology and software companies wanting to set up operations in the region and increase market share aggressively.

In November 2021, Oracle opened a new cloud region in Abu Dhabi, which provides storage capacity to regional enterprises amid soaring demand.

“The launch of the new Google Cloud region in Qatar marks a significant milestone in our growing partnership with Google Cloud that started in 2020 with an agreement to establish Google Cloud’s region in Doha,” said Ahmad Al Sayed, Minister of State and chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority.

“This will further accelerate Qatar’s digital transformation and the realisation of Qatar National Vision 2030 that aims to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy.”

Several global players are establishing data centres in the region as the cloud market picks up.

Alibaba Cloud – a comparatively smaller player and the cloud computing arm of the Chinese e-commerce giant – opened its first regional data centre in Dubai in 2016.

Updated: May 22, 2023, 2:15 PM