Amazon Web Services sees 'huge' potential in Middle East cloud business

The company’s regional customers include Bahrain Economic Development Board, Al Tayyar Travel, flydubai, Union Insurance, Careem and StarzPlay

Teresa Carlson, vice president for AWS worldwide public sector business, says new jobs will be created in Middle East. Courtesy AWS
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Amazon Web Services – the biggest cloud services provider in the world – projects huge business potential in the Middle East, as an increasing number of its global partners express an interest to enter the market.

In July, AWS opened three data centres in Bahrain – its first in the region, bringing its global network to 69 centres in 22 locations.

"Our intent is not to be small, but to grow and scale fast," said Teresa Carlson, vice president for worldwide public sector business at AWS.

“The Middle East region is already doing very well and we have every indication that this will be very successful for us … [It will be] one of our top-performing regions.”

AWS has invested a huge amount in its facilities in Bahrain, said Ms Carlson, but declined to disclose the dollar figure.

“We not only put servers or data centres but we made a very significant investment in land, utilities, networking and people. We look at building a hyper-scale region with a lot of growth opportunities,” she added.

The company said it will hire nearly 30,000 people across different verticals globally, and many will be from the Middle East.

“AWS is committed to this region. Part of these [30,000 jobs] will be here in the Middle East. It’s not only about AWS jobs but also about creating new jobs locally in other businesses,” said Ms Carlson.

“We opened an office here [Bahrain], hired quite a few people and have openings here. We also have offices in the UAE and Saudi Arabia and you will continue to see us opening more [offices in the region].”

Nearly 36 AWS global partners launched customised offers to facilitate their local clients in the Middle East in July when the company’s data centres went live.

“Middle East was one of the most requested regions by AWS global partners. Most of them wanted to launch their business here.”

The company's regional customers include Bahrain Economic Development Board, Al Tayyar Travel, flydubai, Union Insurance, Careem, StarzPlay, Anghami and Sarwa.

Ms Carlson said security is no longer a concern with cloud computing, saying "today customers are moving to cloud because of security".

To train local talent, AWS on Sunday announced a cloud computing degree programme with the University of Bahrain – the first in the region.

A growing number of enterprises are embracing cloud services, with the public cloud services market in the Middle East and North Africa projected to grow to $1.9 billion (Dh7.97bn) by 2020, double the size it was in 2016, according to data from researcher Statista.

Moving to a cloud system hosted by a specialist company can be cheaper for companies than building their own infrastructure of servers, hardware and security networks.

"Using AWS solutions, we have been able to adopt a sustainable digital business strategy that includes modernising, evolving and disrupting our traditional banking operations," said Sael Al Waary, deputy group chief executive of Bank ABC in Manama.

As part of its cloud-first strategy, Bank ABC is planning to launch a mobile-only digital entity, ila Bank, later this year.

“Today, most of the tech innovations are cloud-native or cloud-inspired, and it is helping us to reach the right audience,” added Mr Waary.

AWS reported revenue of $8.38bn in the second quarter of this year, a 37 per cent year-on-year rise. In April, AWS added Arabic language support to Amazon Polly, a service that converts text into speech.

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