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July 18, 2019

Demand rising in Middle East for innovations enabling data intelligence

By Richard Thompson

The cloud services arm of China-based retail giant Alibaba says it has seen an increasing demand across its customers in the Middle East “for innovations to enable data intelligence products such as image search, video streaming and online recommendation engine.”

Alibaba cloud snaps at heels of Amazon and Microsoft in the Middle East

Selina Yuan, president of Alibaba Cloud Intelligence International, said they have seen this trend developing very recently.

It is understood Alibaba has been working with local partners to support customers across the Middle East’s retail, financial services, manufacturing, logistics and media industries.

“As an important connection between Asia and Europe, Middle East attracts a lot of internet and technology companies,” the executive said. “We are … working with more than 30 local partners to support these companies coming and expanding into the region.”

Public cloud services

The executive added that they have also been seeing a growing demand for scalable, robust and secure public cloud services from different organisations since they started operating in the region three years ago.

“Organisations of different sizes from both private and public sectors require proven technologies and services through infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) and platform-as-a-service (PaaS) from providers who have the experience, knowledge and technology to help identify and resolve industry pain-points,” Yuan said.

Notably, a growing number of organisations globally, and across the region, have been adopting a multi-cloud platform, where they use their own private cloud along with services from an external or public cloud service provider in order to reduce capital expenses, provide a more responsive IT service, or foster a more rapid product development environment.

Given this trend, Yuan says the biggest challenge for her organisation has been in changing the traditional enterprise information technology (IT) mind-set.

“We would like to help companies to realise their true business potential,” the executive says, stating that her company can take care of all the cloud-based, data intelligence solutions through IaaS and PaaS, so that their customers can in turn “focus on delivering more for their business and end-customers.”

Local partnership

Alibaba’s Middle East partner network includes ONEMT, a gaming company; Yalla Live, a social app; Dubai Store, a government-led e-commerce platform; Public Diplomacy Office, an affiliate of the UAE’s Cabinet Affairs Ministry; and Khalifa University, with which they have recently established a joint lab on new energy research.

Unlike rivals Amazon and Microsoft, Alibaba does not have an immediate plan to establish data centres in the region.

This article is sourced from Verdict Technology sister publication www.meed.com, a leading source of high-value business intelligence and economic analysis about the Middle East and North Africa. To access more MEED content register for the 30-day Free Guest User Programme.