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In a move towards digital transformation, the demand for data centres in the Middle East is on the rise. The UAE stands out as the front-runner, boasting about 28 active colocation facilities, as highlighted by JLL in a whitepaper presented at Cityscape Global. A multitude of data centre and cloud service providers have either marked their territory in the UAE or are looking forward to expanding their operations there.
The JLL whitepaper, ‘Unleashing the Potential: The Future of Data Centres in the Middle East and Africa’, identifies Dubai and Abu Dhabi as the nation’s top data centre markets. These cities also rank among the 20 smartest cities globally, as per the latest Institute for Management Development’s Smart City Index. This distinction speaks to the UAE’s relentless drive to solidify its digital economy and its dominant role in the regional data centre scenario. Entities like Khazna and Equinix are pushing this momentum forward. Specifically, Khazna is on track to reach a total capacity of 300 megawatts by incorporating 12 new facilities to its array in a mere span of two years.
The UAE, with an impressive internet penetration rate exceeding 98%, is emerging as the central hub for Artificial Intelligence (AI) innovations in the region. This rise is fueled by projects such as Smart Dubai and Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Health. Backed by a formidable AI strategy, the UAE is fervently integrating AI across various sectors, ranging from healthcare and transportation to governmental services. Such commendable feats position the UAE as an appealing prospect for data centre investments, drawing investors who deem it a reliable choice.
JLL’s whitepaper delves deeper into factors that sculpt the investment climate, emphasizing the critical role of hyperscalers in crafting a vibrant data centre market. The Middle East is becoming a magnet for significant investments from leading hyperscalers and renowned cloud providers like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft. Presently, the UAE takes the crown for having the densest concentration of hyperscalers in the region. These corporate giants have unveiled plans for new cloud availability zones within their UAE-based data centres. This move promises to heighten business competitiveness by ensuring advanced technological frameworks and comprehensive security measures, resulting in uninterrupted business processes and trustworthy disaster recovery protocols.
The UAE’s endeavors in the data centre sector reflect its commitment to pioneering innovations and establishing a robust digital foundation. By strategically investing in smart city infrastructure, combined with a profound AI blueprint and a forward-thinking approach to fostering talent, the UAE is not only evolving as an investment hotspot but is also laying the groundwork for a brighter future. The UAE’s dedication to digital trust is evident, positioning it as not only a regional authority in data centres but also a beacon of security and dependability. This sentiment was echoed by Faraz Ahmed, Associate, Research at JLL MENA.
Every innovative leap pushes the UAE closer to unparalleled digital supremacy and economic prosperity. This trajectory indicates that the nation’s progress in the data centre realm will only gain speed, further bolstering the region’s global reputation.
Although the data centre sector in the Middle East and Africa is relatively nascent, its growth rate is remarkable. Forecasts suggest the region will soon be among the fastest expanding data centre markets, given its vast potential to match the soaring demand with supply. Currently, approximately 73 colocation facilities span across countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.