Amazon Web Services launches in Bahrain
Priya Wadhwa
Industry Watch

Amazon Web Services launches in Bahrain

Follows Microsoft to tap into the region's growing market for cloud services.

Amazon and Microsoft are each other’s arch rivals in the cloud services space. Last month, Microsoft announced the launch of its data centres in Dubai and Abu Dhabi in the UAE. And now, Amazon Web Services has opened its Middle East centre in Bahrain.

Amazon will have three “Availability Zones” in the region, which essentially means that there will be three distinct areas with at least one data centre. In a statement reported by TechCrunch, Amazon said that “Each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling and physical security, and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networks.”

The opportunity in the Middle East is ripe considering many companies are now in the process of transitioning to the cloud or are actively looking to in the near future. The tech startup ecosystem that is gaining attention in the region is also dependent upon cloud services—signifying a growing market that helps Amazon as well as Microsoft. Amazon has claimed that it already has “tens of thousands” of customers and partners in the Middle East.

Given that UAE is still leading in the number of companies and startups that operate from its emirates compared to the rest of the GCC, and its potential ties with SoftBank who is reportedly convincing Microsoft to invest in Vision Fund 2 under the condition that it will encourage its portfolio of 75 companies to migrate to Microsoft Azure, we are curious as to how the market will play out for Amazon.

Having said that, Bahrain has been launching new funds, easing regulations and introducing FinTech hubs to boost its tech startup ecosystem. Moreover, by being based in Bahrain, Amazon could gain easier access to the large Saudi market as well as the UAE, while competing with Microsoft.

Amazon has been developing its cloud data centres in Scandinavia owing to its low-cost and relatively clean energy sources, as well as using the naturally cold air to cool the systems. This will pose a challenge in the Middle East’s desert as the hot climate will require additional cooling, further stressing the region’s limited water resources as well as increasing potential carbon footprint of its data centres.

Earlier we have discussed how artificial intelligence is a significant threat to the environment owing to its indirect use of vast amount of resources for data processing. Data centres of Amazon and Microsoft also consume a lot of energy, especially for running the systems and keeping them cool so as to prevent overheating.

We believe that the cloud services competition in the region will benefit the ecosystem of tech firms by offering them choices as well as lowered rates, in addition to boosting the ecosystem with more jobs and support for projects. This was highlighted by Microsoft in a statement last month at the launch of their data centres in the UAE:
“In our experience, local datacenter infrastructure supports and stimulates economic development for both customers and partners alike, enabling companies, governments and regulated industries to realize the benefits of the cloud for innovation and new projects, as well as bolstering the technology ecosystem that supports these projects.”