Andrea Benito
Middle East Editor

How Google Cloud Middle East investments will help CIOs to innovate faster

Oct 24, 20236 mins
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CIO Middle East talks to Tarek Khalil, Middle East and North Africa Director at Google Cloud about the company’s mission to accelerate every organization’s ability to digitally transform its business and its recent cloud region opening in Qatar.

CIO Middle East: What are the main drivers among your customers in the region for moving to the cloud?

Tarek Khalil: The way teams work has definitely changed in the post-pandemic world. The fundamental change in how and where we work requires new productivity tools that enable stronger connections and collaboration at the workplace, especially for companies with teams spread across multiple locations. Organizations want to get smarter at using data so they can be the best in their industry and make data-powered decisions.

Q. Google Cloud opened a new region in Doha, what does it mean for the company and the region? Where do you plan on building your next cloud data centers in the MENA area, and when?

A. The Doha Cloud Region is Google Cloud’s latest significant investment in the Middle East region to support its growing customer base and partner ecosystem in this part of the world. The new region brings high-performance, low-latency services and products to customers of all sizes, from public sector organizations to large enterprises, to small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and startups in Qatar and the Middle East. 

Tarek Khalil, Middle East and North Africa Director, Google Cloud

Tarek Khalil, Middle East and North Africa Director, Google Cloud

Google Cloud

Globally, we have a network of 39 cloud regions around the world. Three cloud regions from our network will be based in the GCC region. The first cloud region that went live this year in May was in Doha, and we have announced our plans to open cloud regions in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. Google Cloud opens cloud regions to meet customer demand. We are committed to shaping and advancing the digital future of the Middle East and have been strengthening our commitment to the region through investing in cloud infrastructure, and resources and building digital skills for the future by opening centers of excellence in Doha and Saudi Arabia.

Q. How is Google Cloud with the new region launch supporting Qatar’s National Vision 2030?

A. The new cloud region responds to the growing demand for cloud services in Qatar and the Middle East region and will be a catalyst for economic development and will create more employment opportunities in the Qatari market as more businesses grow and expand with the power of cloud technologies which will advance Qatar’s digital future and technological capabilities.

The Doha Cloud Region is set to contribute a cumulative 18.9 Billion USD to economic activity in Qatar between 2023 and 2030 and support the creation of more than 25,000 jobs by 2030. Furthermore, the establishment of a strong digital infrastructure through the Doha Cloud Region with internationally agreed standards and policies will lead Qatar towards a more efficient economy that is based on digitalization and technology. This in turn will advance the quality of life for the people of Qatar and provide convenient solutions for various sectors.

Q. What percentage of your customer base is migrating to the cloud, and of that segment of your customer base, what percentage is moving toward a hybrid or multi-cloud environment?

A. On-premise environments cannot maintain the same default level of security as cloud environments can in today’s hybrid world.  The base security of the cloud, coupled with an organization’s protected configuration, will be stronger than what any on-premise environment can realistically offer. Cloud technology will continue to embrace simplicity across a highly complex security landscape, and become an abstraction-generating machine for identifying, creating, and deploying simpler modes of operating securely and autonomically. 

In 2023, we are seeing more organizations across sectors transition to the cloud to support better security. Being a multi-cloud provider has given us an edge in the region – we are seeing an increase in customers choosing Google Cloud services due to the fact that they can grow and scale their products and services with great flexibility.

Q. Which of your cloud services are the most used, or most requested, so far in the Middle East?

A. We help customers transition successfully from a traditional IT set-up to a more modern infrastructure on Google Cloud.  We also help solve large-scale business challenges with industry-tailored solutions that cater to 8 primary sectors.  These sectors span Financial Services, Education, Government, Telecommunications, Media, etc.

Customers in the region are benefiting from Google Cloud’s fast and reliable infrastructure that powers products like Gmail, Google Search and YouTube, and supports billions of users around the world. Our customers have access to the very same high-performance, secure platform to modernize their IT capabilities, opening up the possibilities of multi-cloud, hybrid-cloud and open source.

Public sector organizations such as the Ministry of Communications and IT of Qatar and the Government of Kuwait turned to Google Cloud as the strategic partner to activate the digital transformation roadmap of their countries and governments.  Retailers such as Noon, Nana Direct, Namshi and the EverFashion Luxury Group rely on Google Cloud’s high-performance and secure infrastructure

Q. How do data sovereignty regulations in the Middle East play into your conversations with customers?

A. Across the region, we work very closely with regulators on a number of Cloud-relevant policies, including Cloud First Policy, Data Privacy, Data Localization, Safe Harbor, Data Classification and Data Security, among others, to ensure that the policy and legal landscape supports the growth of the tech sector and allows governments to realize the economic benefits of Cloud. We share global best practices while helping regulators customize and adopt country-specific regulations (in alignment with global trends and standards).

Q. What will Google Cloud say to CIOs who are considering moving to Google Cloud?

A. Digital transformation is about the people and the change they want to drive in their companies and with their teams. To help businesses grow, IT departments in companies need to be viewed as strategic decision-makers playing a key role in driving a company’s success and further growth

We help organizations innovate faster using data and AI in ways that were previously unimaginable. By combining data and AI, organizations can unlock timely insights across various data sources, and enable businesses to act on data-driven decisions to innovate faster. 

Being a multi-cloud provider has given us an edge in the region – we are seeing an increase in customers choosing Google Cloud services due to the fact that they can grow and scale their products and services with great flexibility.