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Amazon to invest $5.3bn in data centres in Saudi Arabia

The partnership with AWS ignites a new era of technological innovation for the kingdom, said Saudi IT minister Abdullah Alswaha Harrison
The partnership with AWS ignites a new era of technological innovation for the kingdom, said Saudi IT minister Abdullah Alswaha

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the cloud division of Amazon, is to invest $5.3 billion (SAR20 billion) in establishing data centres in Saudi Arabia.

The move will allow customers to run workloads and securely store customer content within the kingdom, as well as offer high-speed access to users.  

“Today’s announcement supports Saudi Arabia’s digital transformation with the highest levels of security and resilience available on AWS cloud infrastructure, helping serve fast-growing demand for cloud services across the Middle East,” said Prasad Kalyanaraman, vice president of infrastructure services at AWS. 

“We look forward to helping Saudi Arabian institutions, startups and enterprises deliver cloud-powered applications to accelerate growth, productivity and innovation and spur job creation.”

The Saudi communications and information technology minister, Abdullah Alswaha, said the partnership with AWS, backed by the $5.3 billion investment, ignites a new era of technological innovation for the kingdom, added.  

The new AWS infrastructure region, comprising three availability zones at its launch, will add to the existing 105 availability zones across 33 regions around the world. These availability zones, Amazon says, are strategically positioned to ensure business continuity for customers while maintaining low latency – the delay before a transfer of data begins – for high-availability applications.

In addition, AWS will establish two innovation centres and provide startups in the Middle East and North Africa with technical mentorship and training on its technologies such as artificial intelligence and machine learning.

Regional companies using AWS for their workloads include Saudi Telecom Company, Seera Holding and Mobily, Red Sea Global, Almarai, Almosafer and Jahez, among others.

The Saudi sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, invested in a partnership with the US asset manager DigitalBridge Group last year to develop data centres in the kingdom and across the GCC.

The tech giant Microsoft has announced plans to invest in a new cloud data centre region in the kingdom.

Data centre capacity in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and the UAE is forecast to more than double over the next two years, aided by improved data protection laws and subsea cable connectivity.

Analysts at CBRE said that the data centre capacity of the three countries is estimated to total around 336 megawatts (MW) but is expected to grow to 707 MW by 2025. Saudi Arabia and the UAE are expected to add the bulk of the additional capacity. 

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