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Thursday, February 2, 2023

Scaling globally with the new AWS Middle East (UAE) Region


If you’ve been reading my blog over the past few years, you’ll see that
I have regularly written about the opportunity to use cloud technologies
to solve a range of issues in space. The Mohammed Bin Rashid Space
Centre
(MBRSC) is doing just that. Last year,
MBRSC successfully launched its Hope Probe, the first interplanetary
mission for the UAE and the first spacecraft that aimed to capture a
complete picture of the Martian atmosphere. MBRSC relies on AWS
analytics capabilities to process and analyze data from the Hope Probe
and provide results to the general scientific community in under 20
minutes, compared to 48 hours for other missions not being operated on
the cloud.

This level of innovation is a powerful example of what AWS can make
possible for a new generation of engineers, scientists, and
technologists who have access to cloud technologies. It’s why I’m
excited to share the launch of the AWS Middle East (UAE) Region.

Starting today, developers, startups, entrepreneurs, and enterprises as
well as government, education, and nonprofit organizations will have
even greater choice for running their applications and serving end users
from data centers located in the UAE.

The new region is the second in the Middle East – joining the AWS
Middle East (Bahrain) Region –
giving customers more choice and flexibility to take advantage of the
most advanced cloud technologies, and enabling customers with data
residency requirements to store their data in the UAE. Importantly, our
investment in the UAE Region – an estimated $5.47 billion over the
next 15 years to expand related infrastructure and operations supporting
the projected growth in demand for AWS services – also advances the
country’s strategic priorities, including our provision of training for
highly sought-after technology skills and empowerment of organizations
to innovate across all industries.

The launch of this new region brings our global infrastructure footprint
to 87 Availability Zones across 27 geographic regions. We continue to
invest in our global infrastructure to bring AWS technologies even
closer to our customers and their users. This way, customers can run
workloads on the cloud that deliver the best support for the broadest
set of applications, even those with the highest throughput and lowest
latency requirements.

Majid Al Futtaim is a great example
of how organizations in the UAE are already using AWS to improve
application performance and innovate, learning more about their
customers at the same time. Majid Al Futtaim is the leading shopping
mall, communities, retail and leisure company across the Middle East,
Africa and Asia. As such, having a lot of retail customers means having
a lot of retail data. Majid Al Futtaim needed a single source of truth
for data across their businesses, so they used AWS to build a data
management solution that would allow them to understand more about their
customers. This enabled them to answer questions about their customers
that they previously couldn’t do before. Is a customer that buys
groceries at Carrefour more likely to buy from a particular retailer in
one of their malls? How effective will a free popcorn voucher be at
getting customers into VOX Cinemas? As it turns out, giving away free
popcorn to your customers is a data problem.

Getting to the insights from their data required Majid Al Futtaim to
build a single point of entry for all the data coming from all of their
businesses. To do this, they created a scalable microservice running on
Amazon EKS to act as an ingestion endpoint. Incoming data is indexed in
Elasticsearch and moved to a data lake in Amazon S3 that is 60 terabytes
and growing. Their data analysts are able to use that data to build
predictive models that give them valuable insights, and they now have a
360-degree view of their customers across all their business lines.
Because they treat infrastructure as code, they’re able to spin up
their infrastructure in a test environment and validate changes on the
entire stack before deploying to production. Treating infrastructure as
code is also what makes today’s announcement important to companies
like Majid Al Futtaim. They can rapidly expand into new regions as AWS
opens them.

Our services are not only driving efficiencies for one of the largest
retail conglomerates in the Middle East, but providing companies of all
sizes with the ability to solve complex problems and deliver innovative
solutions. If you’ve watched me talk to founders and entrepreneurs
around the world in Now Go
Build
, you’ll know
education is very important to
me
. Abu Dhabi-based Alef
Education
is helping schools overcome
challenges in the industry such as a lack of teachers, growing student
numbers, a need for digital skills, and more efficiencies in remote
learning. They found a key to engaging students was not building a
one-size-fits-all approach, but creating a learning experience tailored
to each student.

To build a personalized course recommendation engine for students, Alef
Education collects hundreds of millions of data points on how students
learn on their platform and how they perform in assessments. They use
Spark streaming jobs to transform this data, moving it from S3 and
loading it into Amazon Redshift. Then, Alef Education uses Amazon
SageMaker’s automatic model tuning to run multiple training jobs against
the dataset to find the model that offers the best recommendations to
students. Models are bundled in Docker containers and used inside
inference clusters running on Amazon EKS. Using autoscaling on the
clusters to add or remove capacity as demands require, Alef Education
can ensure that educators and students get personalized recommendations
with predictable performance.

With the new AWS Region in the UAE, an even larger number of customers
in the Middle East gain access to AWS services to run their
mission-critical workloads to drive cost savings, accelerate innovation,
and speed time-to-market. I can’t wait to see what our customers do
next. Now go build!

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