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Alibaba Cloud plans second data centre in UAE

Cloud services provider announces new customers, research partnership on first anniversary of local data centre

Alibaba Cloud continues to attract regional clients, including Mashreq Bank.
Alibaba Cloud continues to attract regional clients, including Mashreq Bank.

Alibaba Cloud is set to open another datacentre in the UAE in 2018, two years after setting up its first data centre in the region in Dubai.

The announcement was made by Simon Hu, SVP of Alibaba Group and president of Alibaba Cloud, as the company announced new local partnerships on the first anniversary of its first regional infrastructure project. The data centre is operated by YVOLV, a joint venture with Dubai-based Meraas Holding.

Within that time, the cloud services provider has attracted a growing list of regional clients, including Mashreq Bank, the oldest private bank in the UAE. Mashreq is running a number of its mission-critical applications, such as credit card application systems, on Alibaba Cloud.

Sandeep Chouhan, chief operating officer at Mashreq Bank, said Alibaba’s commitment to the region in rolling out physical infrastructure in the region appealed to his company. “Mashreq Bank is committed to digital banking and wants to partner with Alibaba Cloud to build the Bank of the future,” Chouhan added.

Chouhan said Mashreq Bank can leverage the experience and technology of the larger Alibaba ecosystem to expand its own services. Alibaba’s experience in e-commerce player is important in a region where e-commerce is a booming industry, Chouhan said.

“Mashreq Bank is keen to serve customers in the e-commerce sector,” he added. Alibaba’s financial expertise with its payment platform AliPay is also attractive to Mashreq Bank, which is focused on growing its digital payments footprint, Chouhan added.

Hu said Alibaba Cloud wants to transfer its know-how in China and Asia to the Middle East region. “We are not just bringing business to the region, but our innovation can help ME businesses in their digital transformation strategies,” Hu said.

Alibaba Cloud’s focus goes beyond private enterprises, and is collaborating with public organisations such as universities in the region, Hu explained.

In particular, Alibaba Cloud is now working with Khalifa University to advance its data analytics and research, extending its prior collaboration work with the University’s Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. By leveraging Alibaba’s cloud computing platform, Masdar Institute’s research has made significant contribution to help Abu Dhabi enhance its oil recovery efforts.

Quantum mechanical simulation techniques can be used to understand and predict the movement of liquids across the surface of solid crystalline structures, and when this capability is applied to the UAE’s geological petroleum reservoirs, the knowledge gained can be leveraged to improve oil production.

Alibaba Cloud played a key role in the research effort by providing high-performance cloud computing power. The research team adopted Alibaba Cloud’s heterogeneous computing technology and built the simulation model on Alibaba Cloud’s Elastic Graphic Processing Unit (GPU) service (each GPU instance having thousands of stream processors) to expand its computing capability, reduce simulation time and increase prediction accuracy.

“Our focus is on making technology more inclusive,” Hu concluded.