Alibaba Stakes Middle East Cloud Claim

Aliyun, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba, has struck a deal in Dubai with Meraas to offer cloud services to private companies and government institutions

Aliyun, Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba’s cloud computing division, has made the first steps into taking its cloud computing business into the Middle East with a deal struck with Meraas, a Dubai-based holdings company.

Together, Aliyun and Meraas will set up a technology enterprise that offers system integration services to private companies and government institutions in the Middle East and North Africa region.


Aliyun primarily sells to customers in China. But earlier this year, Alibaba opened its first US cloud data centre in Silicon Valley. The deal with Meraas marks its first steps into the Middle East and North Africa region.

alibabaHeadquartered in Dubai, Alibaba said the joint venture will specialise in application development, service-oriented architecture, testing, validation, citizenship e-services and Big Data operations with a special focus on analytics, revenue-generation and payment solutions.

Jack Ma, Alibaba’s CEO, said that the move is a sign of the world evolving. He said in a statement: “Dubai’s advanced infrastructure and economic strength is a good match for our technology edge, and with Meraas we will be able to provide local entrepreneurs with the vital infrastructure that will ignite innovation and help them to succeed.”

Aliyun was started in 2009, and as of June 2014, boasts 1.4 million customers.  Alibaba said that Aliyun today focuses on designing networking solutions and data intelligence for small companies, while “driving the adoption of cloud services among large enterprises and organisations”.

Aliyun, despite not being well known in the West, is an absolute giant in China. The Chinese market has typically been tough ground for the likes of Azure and AWS to crack. Alibaba stakes a 23 percent claim in the Chinese cloud computing market, with five data centres in Beijing, Hangzhou, Qingdao, Hong Kong, and Shenzen. The cloud computing arm is closely tied with the Chinese government, and with the Chinese cloud market far less mature than the West’s, there is still plenty of room for growth.

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