By Zubin Chagpar
A push for more diversified economies, coupled with visionary plans that include innovative smart city initiatives, have led to increased investment in new technologies, writes Zubin Chagpar, Head of Public Sector, Middle East and Africa at Amazon Web Services
The coming year is set to be an exciting one for cloud computing in the Middle East as the region is seeing the adoption of cloud technology like never before.
A push for more diversified economies, coupled with visionary plans that include innovative smart city initiatives, have led to increased investment in new technologies. 2019 will see the launch of the first Amazon Web Services (AWS) infrastructure region in the Middle East, located in Bahrain. We are eager to see the results of bringing the most advanced cloud technologies closer to startups, enterprises and governments.
With the launch of the new data centres, AWS will add to the 20 regions currently operating across the globe. Already, we are seeing dramatic change as businesses and governments across the region have started to migrate to the cloud while using the existing AWS infrastructure, enabling them to focus on the development of their products and services and empowering them to innovate faster.
We have also been extending our network services to the Middle East with the recent launch of two Amazon CloudFront Edge locations in the UAE, giving organisations such as MBC and Dubizzle an improved experience for their end users.
Amazon CloudFront is also helping to drive the usage of more web applications across the Middle East, including e-commerce, mobile banking, media, entertainment and government services.
Cloud technology allows for fast, low cost business set up
In 2019, cloud computing will be a key enabler for governments rolling out advanced citizen services and smart city initiatives that are already in development across the region. In Bahrain, the adoption of a Cloud First policy is allowing the government to drive down costs, streamline its services and better serve its citizens. As Bahrain looks to become a “country in the cloud,” we are seeing the results of a nation becoming more agile. By migrating to the AWS Cloud, the Bahrain Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA) has reduced the government procurement process for new technology from months to less than two weeks. This process has contributed to reducing ICT infrastructure operational expenditures by approximately 60-90 percent.
For entrepreneurs and startups, cloud technology enables them to build a business very quickly, with much lower technology costs, allowing them to experiment and fail fast as they pioneer new products and services. We are energised by the vibrant startup scene that is growing in the Middle East and see 2019 as a year of further innovation and growth.
Some of the region’s most disruptive startups, such as Anghami, Careem and Fetchr are building their businesses on top of AWS in order to innovate and provide solutions that meet specific regional needs, while scaling rapidly and expanding geographic reach. Startups in the Middle East are also taking advantage of the cloud to implement technologies like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning that would have previously been cost prohibitive.
Large enterprises and family businesses have historically been key drivers of the economy in the Middle East and lately, given the increased competition from startups that are disrupting traditional areas of business, transformation for them is no longer a question of ‘if’ but ‘when.’
Cloud will help governments with advanced services
Disruption is a real threat to these traditional businesses, and digital transformation will remain a key priority for them in 2019. The adoption of the AWS Cloud allowed the largest luxury retailer in the Middle East, Al Tayer Group, to launch digital and e-commerce initiatives at large scale and low cost.
Skills development will also be essential in the region. Governments and businesses alike are looking to update skills within their own ranks, and educational institutions are seeking to prepare the region’s youth for the technology-driven careers that await them.
We will continue making various AWS training and certification programmes available to customers to help them in their cloud journeys.