The Best Cloud Markets In The Middle East & North Africa

June 25, 2019

The Best Cloud Markets In The Middle East & North Africa: The UAE

June 25, 2019

MENA Cloud Alliance (MENACA) just released its much-anticipated Cloud Competitiveness Index 2019 (CCI2019) and the UAE (again) tops the Index followed closely by Qatar, Oman & Bahrain.

CCI2019 is a project aimed at providing a bird’s-eye view of the MENA cloud market, now and on an ongoing basis.The index measures the competitiveness of the cloud computing ecosystem within fourteen MENA countries and covers five domains: Regulation, Talent, Connectivity, Government & Business aspects of the regional cloud computing adoption.

Cloud-first has already been replaced by Cloud-only in many instances across various industries. The worldwide public cloud services market is already estimated at $214.3bn this year and is predicted to reach a staggering $331.2bn by 2022(a). The adoption hurdles in the MENA region, however, do remain. Both external and internal challenges are inhibiting the region's efforts to fully leverage what the cloud has to offer. Privacy and Data Protection issues on the one hand, and Governance/Control, and integration issues on the other are holding decision makers back, and, surprisingly enough, unawareness toward the potential of the cloud is still a barrier to adoption(b).

Future Readiness

The United Arab Emirates tops the index yet again. UAE's competitiveness stems mainly from its extraordinary performance in ICT adoption indicators worldwide (6th)(c). This coupled with a world-class visionary leadership has turned the UAE into one of the most agile and future-ready nations in the world. The ‘UAE Centennial 2071' Vision - a long-term government plan - aims at making the country the best country in the world by 2071 - the UAE's 100th anniversary. Establishing the world's first Artificial Intelligence Ministry, and a virtual Ministry of Opportunities(d) are just examples of Emiratis' future readiness.

Significant Cloud Market Potentiality

UAE's Vision 2021 & National Innovation Strategy has been designed to propel the country to being ‘among the best in the world'. Cloud computing has a pivotal role to play to realize this vision. This is why the UAE is making a conscious effort toward positioning itself as the ‘Regional Data and Cloud Hub'. While Public Cloud & Cloud Services markets are projected to reach $410m & $290m respectively by 2020(e), which is a which is a small proportion of the total ICT spending, UAE's massive bet on disruptive technologies such as: Smart City, AI, IoT & Blockchain - most of which should be preceded by the provisioning of reliable Cloud platforms -promises a hockey-stick increase in the size of the Cloud market in the country. Another significant initiative introduced and implemented by Dubai Smart City, which is the regulator in the data ecosystem, is Dubai Data Strategy. Having already been implemented in government entities, Dubai Data Private Sector Strategy and Policy is expected to facilitate cross-border data transfer through strengthening the Public-Private Partnerships while providing guidelines for governance, privacy & security.

Recommendations

The UAE can maintain and even enhance its standing by introducing a world-class Data Protection Law injecting more transparency into what can and cannot be done when it comes to Cloud. While the existence of special zones with clear regulations - i.e. DIFC & ADGM - and the release of Dubai Data Strategy are helping, introducing a general data protection regime consistent with international frameworks would significantly increase Emirati Cloud Competitiveness in the region.

Despite the UAE's Telecom Regulatory Authority's (TRA) efforts to create a cloud-first policy framework, we are yet to see the introduction of such a vision as a formulated guideline. If implemented properly, UAE can extend its lead even further in the regional Cloud market.

It would take strong high-level skillsets to make organizations embrace the Cloud. While the UAE scores very competitively when it comes to, say, Delegation of Authority (20th worldwide), its cloud competitiveness can be strengthened by performing better in the Global Knowledge Skills indicators - particularly Talent Impact variables: High-value Exports, New Product Entrepreneurial Activity & Innovation Output(f).


By: Omid Mahboubi

Exec. Director - MENA Cloud Alliance


  • (a) Forecast: Public Cloud Services, Worldwide, 2016-2022 4Q18 - Gartner
  • (b) Report on the Usage and Provision of Cloud Computing Services in Arab Countries - ITU
  • (c) Global Competitiveness Index 2018 - WEF
  • (d) The United Arab Emirates’ Government Portal
  • (e) IDC
  • (f) Global Talent Competitiveness Index 2019