AWS expands Middle East presence with UAE region

The new region joins Bahrain and soon Israel, as AWS and other hyperscalers expand into the Middle East

Amazon Web Services (AWS) this week announced the launch of a new region in the Middle East. The new region, called “me-central-1,” is located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is the second AWS has opened in the Middle East, joining an already-active Bahrain region. The company is also building another in Israel. AWS first announced plans to activate the UAE region in 2021.

The company did not disclose the specific locations of the UAE data centers. Regions, in AWS parlance, are physical locations where the company has grouped data centers. AWS then separates the clusters of data centers into logical groupings, which it refers to as Availability Zones (AZs). Each AZ is at least one (but possibly more) data center, each with its own independent power, cooling and physical security.

AWS instructs its customers looking for the highest service availability to deploy their cloud applications to run in multiple AZs. The new UAE region sports three such AZs.

“Availability Zones are located far enough from each other to support customers’ business continuity, but near enough to provide low latency for high-availability applications that use multiple Availability Zones,” said AWS.

AWS touted the economic benefits of the new region in a statement.

“AWS estimates that its projected spending on the construction and operation of the new Region will support an average of nearly 6,000 full-time jobs annually at external vendors, with a planned $5 billion (AED 20 billion) investment in the local economy through 2036. The AWS Middle East (UAE) Region will also add an estimated $11 billion (AED 41 billion) over the next 15 years to the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP),” said AWS.

The $5 billion AWS has earmarked for the UAE region includes capital expenditures associated with the construction of new data centers, operational expenses related to those ongoing utility and facility costs, and the purchase of goods and services from regional businesses as well. The 6,000 jobs AWS predicts will be created as a result of the new region are part of the AWS supply chain in the area – construction, facility maintenance, engineering, and telecom, for example.

AWS counts a total of 27 geographic regions worldwide, offering a total of 87 AZs. AWS’ long-term plans include launching 21 more AZs. The company has also announced plans to launch six more regions besides Israel: Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand, Spain and Switzerland.

AWS is in the midst of aggressive worldwide buildout of its points of presence as other hyperscalers do the same. Microsoft opened up its first Middle East Azure region in Dubai in 2019, following up earlier this year with a Qatar region; Microsoft has also announced plans to open an Israel region soon. Google, meanwhile, has no active Middle East regions presently, but has announced plans to open three separate regions in Israel, Saudi Arabia and Qatar. Alibaba and Oracle Cloud both operate Middle East regions as well.

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