I'm happy to announce today that the new AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region is now open! This is our first AWS Region in the Middle East and I'm excited by the opportunities the availability of hyper scale infrastructure will bring to organizations of all sizes. Starting today, developers, startups, and enterprises, as well as government, education, and non-profit organizations can run their applications and serve end users across the region from data centers located in the Middle East.
With this launch, our infrastructure now spans 69 Availability Zones across 22 geographic regions around the world. We have also announced plans for nine more Availability Zones in three more AWS Regions in Indonesia, Italy, and South Africa coming online in the next few years. The new AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region offers three Availability Zones (AZs) at launch. AZs refer to data centers in separate distinct locations within a single Region that are engineered to be operationally independent of other AZs, with independent power, cooling, physical security, and are connected via a low latency network. AWS customers focused on running highly available applications can architect their applications to run in multiple AZs to achieve even higher fault-tolerance.
Today is another milestone for us in the Middle East. The new AWS Middle East Region adds to other infrastructure investments we have been making, over the past few years, to provide customers with advanced and secure cloud technologies.
In 2018, we launched two AWS Direct Connect locations in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and today, with the AWS Middle East Region, we are launching a new Direct Connect location in Bahrain – which is the first to be operated by AWS. AWS Direct Connect makes it easy for customers to establish a dedicated private network connection between AWS and their data center, office, or colocation environment. We have also launched two Amazon CloudFront edge locations in the UAE, in 2018, giving customers an improved experience for their end users, including faster content delivery, and added cybersecurity protection.
Since launching our offices in 2017, we have continued to grow our teams in the Middle East with account managers, solutions architects, partner managers, professional services consultants, support staff, and various other functions. Regional offices help us get closer to our customers and support their cloud journeys. We are always looking for talented individuals to join the team, so if you are looking for your next career opportunity, we're hiring!
The power of education
To support the growth in technology skills and cloud adoption across the region, we have also been making significant investments in education, training, and certification programs. Our programs help anyone interested in the latest cloud computing technologies, best practices, and architectures, to advance their technical skills and further support Middle East organizations in their digital transformation.
To help drive diversity in the tech industry, we have also extended our global 'We Power Tech' program to the region. We provide free training courses and events to support technology skills development for women in the Middle East. We strongly believe that diversity brings strength to the technology industry so this is an area we continue to invest in and grow in the Middle East.
For students and educators, we also have brought the AWS Educate and AWS Academy programs to the Middle East. These programs provide free resources to accelerate cloud-related learning and preparing today's students in the Middle East for the jobs of the future. Many institutes across the region already take part in AWS Educate and AWS Academy including:
Bahrain Polytechnic, Higher Colleges of Technology in the UAE, Jordan University of Science and Technology, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, Oman College of Management and Technology, University of Bahrain, and many others.
Millions of active customers are now using AWS each month in over 190 countries around the world, including tens of thousands of customers in the Middle East and North Africa. Enterprises across the region have been increasingly moving to AWS to become more agile and innovate including:
Al Jouf Cement, Al Tayer Group, Arab Banking Corporation (Bank ABC), Aramex, Bahrain Bourse, Bank Al-Etihad, Batelco, Emirates NBD, Flydubai, Gulf News, Hassan Allam, Lulu International Exchange, MBC Group, OSN, Seera Group, Union Insurance, Virgin Middle East, and many more.
Emirates NBD, a leading banking Group in the Middle East, is using AWS's artificial intelligence and machine learning services, data analytics, and natural language processing technologies to better engage with customers and simplify banking.
Well-established family businesses in the Middle East are also moving to AWS for innovation and digital transformation. Al Tayer Group is one of the largest privately held, family-run conglomerates in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Using AWS, they were able to become more agile and reliably launched five ecommerce platforms all within a year, such as Mamas & Papas, Nisnass.com, and Ounass alongside Android and iOS apps. They rely on several AWS managed database services such as Amazon Aurora, where they cut costs by 40%, while increasing performance by four times, compared with proprietary database technologies.
Public sector organizations are also using AWS to drive cost savings, accelerate innovation, and better serve the citizens of the region:
Government of Bahrain's Ministries, such as the Ministry of Education, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information Affairs, Ministry of Labor and Social Development, and The Bahrain Information & eGovernment Authority (iGA), as well as other public sector organizations such as Bahrain Polytechnic, Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority of Kuwait (CITRA), Mumtalakat, Paris Sorbonne AD, Tamkeen, University of Bahrain, and many more.
An example of a government entity that turned to the agility and speed of AWS is Bahrain's National Bureau of Revenue (NBR), who quickly and efficiently launched the country's Value Added Tax (VAT) system. By launching SAP S/4 Hana on AWS, NBR was able to go to market in just under two months while lowering costs by 40%. Eliminating the need to manage IT infrastructure allowed them to focus on successfully reaching an important milestone in Bahrain's economic development.
To help grow the next generation of businesses in the Middle East, we are supporting startups through the AWS Activate Program. With AWS Activate, we work with accelerators, angel investors, government organizations, incubators, and venture capital firms. We provide resources to help startups launch ideas on the AWS Cloud and grow their business across the Middle East, and around the world.
Startups are building their businesses on AWS, enabling them to scale rapidly and expand around the world. Many of the most well-known startups in the Middle East are choosing AWS, including:
Alef Education, Almentor, Altibbi, Anghami, Bayt.com, BitOasis, Babil Games, Bey2ollak, Boutiqaat, Careem, Classera, Clicksco, Crowd Analyzer, Dubizzle, EKar, Elephantsocial, Fetchr, Fish.me, Haraj, Health at Hand, Jeeny, Little Thinking Minds, Maestro Pizza, Mawdoo3.com, Mrsool, Naseej, Ngwa, Opensooq, Property Finder, Sarwa, Souqalmal, StarzPlay, Tajawal, ToDoorStep, Ureed, Vezeeta, and Yallacompare.
Careem, the leading technology platform for the region, started working with AWS in 2012 to help it scale fast across 14 countries in under seven years. Today, Careem hosts 33 million customers and one million drivers on its platform. It has expanded its services to offer on-demand deliveries as well its original core business, ride hailing.
Another rapidly growing startup using AWS isClassera, one of the leading education companies in the Middle East and at the forefront of using cloud technology to rethink education services. Classera is revolutionizing the e-learning ecosystem, by developing smart solutions that leverage AWS data analytics and machine learning services to bring personalized and highly engaging learning experiences to students.
Our AWS Middle East (Bahrain) Region is now open for business. We are excited to offer a comprehensive portfolio of services, from foundational technologies such as compute, storage, database, and networking to more advanced services such as containers and serverless computing. We look forward to broadening this portfolio with more services in the future. We also look forward to seeing the fantastic innovation that will come from our customers in the Middle East with this new Region.