As-Salaam-Alaikum: The cloud arrives in the Middle East!

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Today, I am excited to announce plans for Amazon Web Services (AWS) to bring an infrastructure Region to the Middle East! This move is another milestone in our global expansion and mission to bring flexible, scalable, and secure cloud computing infrastructure to organizations around the world. Based in Bahrain, this will be the first Region for AWS in the Middle East. The Region will be in the heart of Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, and we're aiming to have it ready by early 2019. This Region will consist of three Availability Zones at launch, and it will provide even lower latency to users across the Middle East.

This news marks the 22nd AWS Region we have announced globally. We already have 44 Availability Zones across 16 geographic Regions that customers can use today. We still have another five AWS Regions (and 14 Availability Zones) in China, France, Hong Kong, and Sweden. Plus another AWS GovCloud (US) Region in the United States is coming online by the end of 2018.

I'm also excited to announce today that we are launching an AWS Edge Network Location in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the first quarter of 2018. This will bring Amazon CloudFront, Amazon Route 53, AWS Shield, and AWS WAF to the region and add to the 84 points of presence AWS has around the world. Despite this rapid growth, we don't plan to slow down or stop there: we will bring infrastructure everywhere needed to meet our customers' expectations.

2017 continues a busy year for AWS in the Middle East. Back in January we opened offices in the region to serve our rapidly growing customer base. We now have a presence in Dubai, UAE and Manama, Bahrain with teams of account managers, solutions architects, partner managers, professional services consultants, support staff, and various other functions, so that customers can directly engage with AWS. For the new AWS infrastructure Region we will also be hiring datacenter engineers, support engineers, engineering operations managers, security specialists, and many more. We are continually hiring in the Middle East, so those people looking to join our dynamic and rapidly growing team should visit www.amazon.jobs.

In addition to infrastructure, offices, and jobs another investment AWS is making for its customers in the Middle East, and around the world is to run our business in the most environmentally friendly way. One of the important criteria in launching this AWS Region is the opportunity to power it with renewable energy. We chose Bahrain in part due to the country's focus on executing renewable energy goals and its readiness to construct a new solar power facility to meet our power needs. I'm pleased to announce that the Bahrain Energy and Water Authority (EWA) will construct a solar farm that will supply renewable energy to power this infrastructure Region. EWA expects to bring the 100 MW solar farm online in 2019, making it the country's first utility-scale renewable energy project.

You might not know that AWS has a long history of working with customers in the Middle East. We have been supporting the growth of organizations in this part of the world since the early days of our business. We have supported the development of technology skills across the region with Training and Certification programs to help customers develop skills to design, deploy, and operate their infrastructure and applications on the AWS Cloud. We run a range of programs to give people cloud skills, from AWSome Days – a one-day workshop-based training for technical professionals - to online resources such as webinars, whitepapers, articles, and tutorials that help to educate people about AWS.

In the education sector we have been supporting the development of technology and cloud skills amongst tertiary institutes in the Middle East through the AWS Educate program. This provides students and educators with the resources needed to accelerate cloud-related learning. AWS Educate is already available for students attending institutes such as King Abdullah University of Science and Technology in Saudi Arabia, the Higher Colleges of Technology in UAE, Bahrain Polytechnic, University of Bahrain, as well as Oman College of Management and Technology, the Jordan University of Science and Technology, and many others across the region.

For those not in tertiary education, but looking to launch their own business in the Middle East, we have AWS Activate. This gives startups access to guidance and 1:1 time with AWS experts, as well as web-based training, self-paced labs, customer support, third-party offers, and up to $100,000 USD in AWS service credits. We also work with a number of incubators and accelerators in the region. In Saudi Arabia AWS works with the Badir Program for Technology Incubators and Accelerators at King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST). Working with Badir, AWS is providing startups access to technology resources as well as expert advice to help Saudi youth entrepreneurship and to grow new businesses in the Kingdom. We also work with AstroLabs in the UAE and the Cloud 10 Scalerator in Bahrain, as well as a number of international startup accelerator and incubator organizations active in the region, such as 500 Startups, Startupbootcamp, and Techstars. For more details on AWS Activate visit https://aws.amazon.com/activate/.

Through supporting new and existing businesses across the Middle East, organizations of all sizes – in UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Jordan, Egypt, Bahrain, and other countries – have been increasingly moving their mission-critical applications to AWS. Some of the Middle East's most established enterprises, such as Actel, Al Tayer Group, Batelco, flydubai, Hassan Allam, Middle East Broadcasting Center, Silah Gulf, Souq.com, Union Insurance, United Arab Shipping Company, and many others, are using AWS to drive cost savings, accelerate innovation, and speed time-to-market.

One story from the Middle East I particularly like is flydubai, the leading low-cost airline in the region. flydubai chose to build their online check-in platform on AWS and went from design to production in four months. It is now being used by thousands of passengers a day. They have also reduced the lead time for new infrastructure services from up to 10 weeks to a matter of hours. Given the seasonal fluctuations in demand for flights, flydubai also needs IT infrastructure that allows it to cope with spikes in demand, making this a great use case for cloud.

AWS also works with a number of government organizations across the Middle East. The Bahrain Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Justice, and the Bahrain Institute of Public Administration (BIPA) are moving workloads to AWS. The BIPA has moved their Learning Management System to AWS, reducing costs by over 90%. Another government organization using AWS to reduce costs and increase agility is the Bahrain Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA). The iGA is the government department in charge of moving all government services online and is also responsible for ICT governance and procurement for the Bahrain government. Earlier this year the iGA launched a cloud first policy, requiring new government workloads evaluate cloud-based services first. Through adopting a cloud first policy, they have helped to reduce the government procurement process for new technology from months to less than two weeks. They are also migrating 700 government websites, with more than 50 TB of data, onto AWS, helping them to meet their goal of decommissioning their hosting platform by the end of 2017.

In addition to enterprises and government institutions, startups in the region are also choosing AWS as the foundation for their business and to scale rapidly and expand their geographic reach in minutes. These startups include Alpha Apps, Blu Loyalty, Cequens, DevFactory, Dubizzle, Fetchr, Genie9, Mawdoo3.com, Namshi, OneGCC, Opensooq.com, Payfort, Tajawal, and Ubuy, as well as Middle Eastern Unicorn, Careem. Careem runs totally on AWS and over the past five years has grown 10 times in size every year. Another cool startup that comes from the Middle East is Anghami. Anghami is a music service that uses AWS to add over 10,000 tracks a day to its catalogue using Amazon S3. Anghami serves over 750 million monthly streams. Having only been founded in 2012, Anghami has grown rapidly and now has over 50 million users, and offers instant access to over 26 million songs, making it the number one music platform in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region.

Alongside customers, we also work with a vibrant partner ecosystem across the Middle East, including AWS Partner Network (APN) Partners that have built cloud practices and innovative technology solutions on AWS. AWS APN Consulting and Technology Partners in the Middle East that are helping customers to migrate to the cloud include Al Moayyed Computers, Batelco, C5, du, DXC Technology, Falcon 9, Infonas, Integra Technologies, ITQAN Cloud, Human Technologies, Kaar Technologies, Navlink, Redington, Zain, and many others. As we head toward the opening of the AWS Middle East Region we look forward to working with many more partners.

Despite being active in the Middle East for many years, and the rapid growth we have seen, it is still Day One for us at AWS. We are excited to see the new applications, businesses, and entire industries that will grow in the Middle East in the coming years thanks to the cloud. We also look forward to working with customers from startups to enterprise, public to private sector, and many more as we grow our business in the Middle East and around the world. For more information on our activities in the Middle East, including webinars, meetups, customer case studies, and more, please visit the AWS Middle East page at https://aws.amazon.com/aws-me/.

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