With the Google Cloud launch coming less than a year after Microsoft announced its new data center region in Qatar, the country is confirming its position as a key market for big tech investments and a center of innovation
With a vision to contribute $18.9 billion to economic activity over the next seven years and support the creation of more than 25,000 jobs in 2030 alone, Google has launched its Cloud Region in Qatar on “Qatar’s terms.”
As the company’s first data center in the Gulf Cooperation Council market, the new Cloud region inauguration spotlighted Qatar as the fastest-growing technology hub in the Middle East.
“The launch of the first Google Cloud region in Qatar fits into our comprehensive vision to achieve the desired goals of Qatar National Vision 2030, including the establishment of a strong digital infrastructure with internationally agreed standards and policies that will lead us all towards a more efficient economy based on digitalization and technology to facilitate quality of life and provide convenient solutions for various sectors,” said Mohammed bin Ali Al Mannai, Qatar’s Minister of Communications and Information Technology.
Google’s decision to launch the Cloud region in Qatar, said members of the firm’s top management, were driven by the country’s very “cloud-friendly” policies and “clear vision” for digital transformation,
“Coming to Qatar is part of our investment strategy in the Middle East. It has started with Qatar, and we have already announced an investment in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Qatar Vision 2030 for digital transformation enables us to work with Qataris first. It’s a good start for us,” said Abdul Rahman Al Thehaiban, Managing Director, Middle East, Africa & Turkey, Google Cloud.
“The launch marks a significant milestone in our growing partnership with Google Cloud that started in 2020 with an agreement to establish Google Cloud’s region in Doha,” said Ahmad Al Sayed, Minister of State and chairman of Qatar Free Zones Authority. “This will further accelerate Qatar’s digital transformation and the realization of Qatar National Vision 2030 that aims to build a sustainable knowledge-based economy.”
Google Cloud launch has come less than a year after Microsoft announced its new data center region in Qatar, confirming the country’s position as a key market for big tech investments and a center of innovation.
But in the coming years, how will this new tech push help big businesses and startups, what will it take for their customers to adapt to the transition, and how will this shape Qatar’s rapidly growing tech ecosystem?
“This launch introduced the Qatar market to the different service offerings of Google Cloud, such as AI, and predictive analytics, among others, aiding us to enable and accelerate digital transformation initiatives for our clients,” said PwC Qatar’s Country Senior Partner and Consulting Leader, Bassam Hajhamad.
EMPOWERING LOCAL ECOSYSTEM
He added that this would also enable transformational change and innovation, empowering the local ecosystem to rise to the challenges presented by rapidly changing customer demands. “Finally, this expanding portfolio will provide clients with more options in choosing cost-effective, secure, and globally-enabled solutions that will enable them to reach their potential,” said Mr Hajhamad.
Mohammad Ali Abbaspour — whose Doha-based sports tech startup Sponixtech has been leveraging Google Cloud infrastructure to develop innovative viewing experiences for football fans – believes the official launch will create “further opportunities for enterprises and startups not only in Qatar but also across the wider region.”
“The great infrastructure of Google Cloud has helped us serve different sports competitions worldwide, sitting in our office in Doha. The service is remote but of the highest broadcast quality. In the same way, other startups can benefit from a reliable, scalable, and secure local cloud infrastructure to develop new solutions for local and international markets,” he says.
The cloud has now become a “worldwide norm” and will bring “more agility” to businesses in Qatar, says NetApp’s Ricardo Piccolo, who serves as the company’s Solutions Engineering Director for Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa region.
“There is a big movement in the world economy towards shifting data to the cloud. It allows you to respond fast to the needs that certain markets have. Qatar is a great economy, and the cloud region will bring new dynamics to the IT environment,” he says.
RESOLVE SECURITY CONCERNS
For many local and international tech firms, data centers in Qatar will help resolve security concerns clients raise. “Before Google Cloud was announced in Qatar, there was a major concern about moving data outside the country. But we have started moving some of our clients’ workloads since Google went live with their data centers here. It has helped us overcome all security and data residency concerns,” says Karim Bounid, head of pre-sales at Open Text which provides information management solutions, adding that “a lot of our existing customers are willing to migrate their workload to Cloud.”
Mohammed Ibrahim Mubdiu of Doha-based Advanced Business Computing has also started discussions with customers to migrate to the cloud and believes they will gradually get accustomed to it. “The cloud in Qatar will add immense value to solutions, especially in AI. It will also be more cost-effective. Before migrating to the cloud, in cases where we could only have one or two solutions, we now have more choices. Customers will also see how things are shaping up, and their concerns are being addressed,” he says.
And as for having both Google and Microsoft cloud services in Qatar, big tech companies and startups agree it’s a win-win for all stakeholders. “Most of our customers are now adopting a multi-cloud approach, which means they don’t want to put all their eggs in one basket. So we have partnerships with both Google and Microsoft, and we can host our workload on either of them. It gives options to our customers to run their solutions on both cloud providers,” says Bounid.
“An environment of competitiveness will only serve the customer base. It will push the providers to keep innovating and investing in cloud services,” he adds.
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