Abu Dhabi’s digital economy will be boosted through the launch of Amazon Web Services’ (AWS) cloud infrastructure region in the UAE, as part of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office’s (ADIO) efforts to attract investments that build technology capabilities. The arrival of the AWS Middle East (UAE) Region in the first half of 2022 will accelerate cloud adoption and empower organisations to innovate faster. It will further enhance the access organisations have to advanced technologies from the world’s leading cloud services provider, helping them to innovate and digitally transform across Abu Dhabi and the wider UAE.

The collaboration highlights the growing partnership between the public and private sectors in Abu Dhabi, which is accelerating breakthroughs and advancing large-scale digital transformation, strengthening the emirate’s position as a global hub for innovation. As part of its investment, AWS will be collaborating with ADIO across Abu Dhabi’s knowledge economy on various ecosystem and education initiatives, training and startup enablement programmes. 

Already ranked the Smartest City in the Middle East according to IMD’s Smart City Index 2020, Abu Dhabi continues to strengthen its digital infrastructure and capacity to support capabilities across the emirate’s rapidly expanding innovation ecosystem. The upcoming launch of the AWS Middle East (UAE) Region is a continuation of ADIO’s efforts to build Abu Dhabi’s ICT sector and bring key skills and capabilities that unlock opportunities across all other innovation-focused sectors. Earlier this year, ADIO partnered with ICT leaders, music streaming service Anghami and cloud technology consulting and management company Bespin, under its Innovation Programme. Underscoring Abu Dhabi’s role as a launchpad for innovators, Anghami is set to list on the Nasdaq via a merger with a special purpose acquisition company (SPAC).

ADIO is supercharging support for innovation-focused businesses by ensuring that companies across all sizes and sectors have the right tools and opportunities they need to succeed. In 2021 alone, ADIO has provided more than AED 735 million (USD 200 million) of support to ICT companies based in or setting up in Abu Dhabi to help them innovate, while also providing them with a raft of other non-financial incentives including immigration and licensing support, connections with education providers and dedicated investor care services.

H.E. Dr. Tariq Bin Hendi, Director General of ADIO, said: “Abu Dhabi is leading the region’s digital transformation, with the emirate’s robust infrastructure and connectivity powering its thriving business ecosystem and cementing its status as the smartest city in the Middle East. With the upcoming launch of the new AWS Region in the UAE, smart is about to get smarter. ADIO is collaborating with AWS to bring market-leading cloud computing technology to the country, leveraging the full potential of the emirate’s smart infrastructure. Through our ICT partnerships, we are executing on our mission to ‘turn sand into silicon’ by driving improved capacities and capabilities that deliver opportunities for businesses across Abu Dhabi, the UAE and the region.”

The new AWS Middle East (UAE) Region will enable local customers with data residency requirements to store their data in the UAE while also providing even lower latency across the country. This will also increase access for local organisations to advanced technologies and a full suite of cloud services including analytics, artificial intelligence, computing, database, Internet of Things (IoT), machine learning, mobile services, serverless technologies, storage and more to drive innovation.

Vinod Krishnan, Head of Middle East and North Africa, AWS, said, “The new AWS Region will give organisations in the UAE local access to the most advanced cloud technology, empowering them with tools to build innovative solutions that accelerate digital transformation. Critical to realising the full potential of cloud computing is having the right skills. In addition to infrastructure, AWS is making investments in cloud skills training and education programs for people in the UAE. We look forward to supporting Abu Dhabi’s initiatives across the knowledge economy to upskill the workforce and bring cloud learning to schools that prepare young students for the jobs of the future.”

In 2020, cloud uptake in the UAE rose massively by 40.9% over 2019, according to IDC. The launch of the AWS Region will support growing market demand for cloud in the UAE. IDC forecasts that the infrastructure as a service segment will expand rapidly at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 35.4% through 2025, while the combined software as a service and platform as a service segments will expand at a CAGR of 24.5% over the same period. Numerous UAE entities, including Aramex, Emirates NBD, Gulf News and OSN, as well as leading startups, such as Alef Education, Fetchr, Sarwa and Yallacompare, have built their businesses on top of AWS, empowering them to scale and expand. Abu Dhabi continues to provide an ideal launchpad for companies to reach their global ambitions.

As part of the collaboration with ADIO, AWS will invest in education initiatives, training and startup enablement programmes to support the UAE’s digital transformation and add to the capabilities of Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem. To support startups and SMEs in the UAE, the company will work with accelerator organisations and expand the AWS Activate programme giving startups a range of free support including AWS credits, mentorship, and other resources to help startups launch their businesses on AWS and go global in minutes. It will also continue its training events, work with the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge (ADEK) on the latest cloud-computing curriculum for training and provide higher education institutions with cloud computing courses to prepare students for certifications and careers in the industry.

In addition to ADIO’s support for ICT companies, it is working closely with entities including ADEK, 42 Abu Dhabi, Hub71, Abu Dhabi Global Market, Masdar, twofour54, G42 and UAE Federal Government entities, to strengthen the emirate’s innovation ecosystem. ADIO’s role includes connecting innovation-led investors and companies with the right opportunities and partnerships across Abu Dhabi and setting them up for long-term success.