Back in January 2019, one tweet from Qatar News Agency likely set the foundation; fast forward towards the end of 2019, and the news is official. Microsoft has signed an agreement with the Ministry of Transport and Communications to set up an Azure datacenter in Qatar.

The announcement was made by Jassim Saif Ahmed Al-Sulaiti (HE Minister of Transport and Communications) and Jean-Philippe Courtois (EVP and President, Microsoft Global Sales, Marketing and Operations, Microsoft Corp.) at a signing ceremony that recently took place in Doha, Qatar.

This announcement serves a viable follow-up to the one made at QITCOM 2019, where MOTC announced its choice of Azure as its preferred cloud platform.

Azure in Qatar

The new Microsoft region in Qatar will offer Microsoft’s scalable, trusted and reliable cloud services combined with in-country customer data residency. This expands the Microsoft global cloud infrastructure to a total of 55 cloud regions in 20 countries. This would join Microsoft’s existing Azure Middle East region with their datacenters already online in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

The new region is anticipated to be available starting with Microsoft Azure in 2021. Office 365, Dynamics 365 and other cloud-based solutions by Microsoft should follow as the datacenter scales up. Shifting resources to the could will accelerate Qatar’s digital transformation agenda and build a knowledge-based economy as laid down in the Qatar National Vision 2030.

The new cloud region is anticipated to play a pivotal role in bridging the skills gap in Qatar. Microsoft is also collaborating with the Qatar Digital Government to launch a nationwide upskilling program. The objective is to train government employees in enhancing their technical acumen in cloud technologies. Expect to see Azure-certified programs popping up in the future.

The best part about it? Microsoft’s cloud services are compliant with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and certified for a large portfolio of international security and privacy standards. Some of these policies already form the basis of Qatar’s government policies, including the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ National Information Assurance Policy and the Cloud Security and Information Privacy Protection regulations.

Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC), Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MOCI), Qatar Foundation and Aspire are some of the entities already leveraging Microsoft’s cloud solutions for their needs.

Azure already serves more than a billion customers and 20 million businesses. Beyond the business and enterprise use cases, Azure also powers other consumer-facing products for Microsoft. Could we see Xbox Live officially expanding across the region?


Image credit: Microsoft blog

Posted by:Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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