A new whitepaper by real estate firm, JLL titled ‘Unleashing the Potential: The Future of Data Centres in the Middle East and Africa’ has revealed the extent of digital transformation in the Middle East as the demand for data centres has increased.
Both Dubai and Abu Dabi are the largest data centre markets in the UAE reveals JLL. Not only are they impactful in the region, but according to the Insitute for Management Development’s Smart City Index, both cities are ranked among the top 20 smartest cities globally. Companies like Khazna are helping the UAE keep this reputation as it plans to add 12 new facilities to its portfolio over the next two years. Consequently, it plans to have a capacity of 300 megawatts.
There have been a variety of initiatives keeping the UAE at the forefront of innovation. Besides ensuring an extremely high penetration rate in the country (98 per cent), it has also entered the world of artificial intelligence (AI). AI is one of the hottest topics in fintech currently and initiatives such as Smart Dubai and Dubai Artificial Intelligence in Health ensure high levels of innovation in the UAE.
Moreover, on the back of a strong Artificial Intelligence Strategy, the country also aims to integrate AI across various sectors. This includes healthcare, transportation, and government services.
“The UAE is boldly leading the charge in the data centre domain in the region. Especially at a time when data defines the parameters of innovation, efficiency, and competitiveness,” said Faraz Ahmed, associate, research at JLL MENA.
“Through strategic investments in smart city infrastructure, a robust AI strategy, and a visionary approach to talent development, the country is not only becoming an investment hub; it is positioning itself for even greater success ahead. Initiatives like the ‘National Cybersecurity Strategy’ further underlines UAE’s commitment to digital trust, making it not only a regional data centre leader but also a bastion of security and reliability.”
Hyperscaling the UAE data centre market
JLL’s whitepaper highlights the importance of hyperscalers in enabling the investment environment. Companies like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft have introduced the latest cloud technologies into the market. As a result, business competitiveness is increased as they are provided with advanced architecture and robust end-to-end security. Using these technologies, they are able to improve business operations and create reliable disaster recovery solutions.
“With each stride in innovation, the UAE propels itself to new heights of digital excellence and economic vitality. It is clear that its current momentum will only accelerate, cementing its standing in the realm of data centres and strengthening the region’s position on the global stage,” Ahmed added.
Whilst the data centre market in the Middle East and Africa is still in its early stages of development, it is growing rapidly. If it continues this way, the region will be one of the fastest-growing data centre markets in the coming years. Especially given its strong potential for expansion to bridge the gap between limited supply and growing demand. At present, around 73 colocation facilities are operational across the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, and Kuwait.