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Focus: Bahrain to become home for ‘big data’

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The UAE scored a coup in July when Amazon bought homegrown e-tailer Souq.com. But Bahrain pipped its Gulf neighbours to the post with news last week that it is to provide a home for the reams of data held by the e-commerce giant.

Amazon Web Services (AWS), the $10bn cloud computing subsidiary of US-listed Amazon, announced plans to build at least three massive data centres in Bahrain by 2019.

The data centres will be AWS’s first in the Middle East and are expected to boost the local economy by creating new jobs and facilitating public and private sector growth.

At a media event in Manama at which an estimated 1,500 delegates were in attendance, AWS said it intends to open three ‘availability zones’ in Bahrain by 2019. AWS has 44 such zones in various locations across the world and each houses at least one data centre.

AWS and its parent Amazon are notoriously private, with strict commercial confidentiality rules in place. Details including the exact number, size, cost and location of the planned centres are top secret. However, with AWS recording $16bn of revenues and 42 percent year-on-year growth in the second quarter of 2017, as well as one million active users of its cloud computing services, the company claims, it is not hard to see the enormous scale of this project.

AWS is understood to have acquired land to build the data centres direct from the Bahrain government, which has a strategy to make better use of rapidly advancing cloud computing technology to boost its economy. If companies can store data in a more secure, cost-effective way, they can better serve their customers and innovate for growth.

Khalid Al Rumaihi, CEO of Bahrain’s inward investment agency Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB), explained: “AWS’s commitment to expanding its presence in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Bahrain is a major enabler for technology and data-driven business across the GCC.

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