Cabinet officially authorises Microsoft global data centre, Reuters reports
Microsoft has been granted permission by the Qatari government to construct an Azure data centre in the Gulf country.
The news comes from local newspaper The Peninsula, that reported the announcement after it was made at the Cabinet’s regular meeting in Amiri Diwan on January 2nd.
News on the scale and cost of the project is vague, and Microsoft has yet to confirm or deny the reports. The firm added to the confusion surrounding the centre by implying the news was a “rumour” to Data Economy.
If constructed, the centre would be Microsoft’s second Middle Eastern data centre. Last year Microsoft announced plans to expand into the Middle East for the first time by beginning construction of data centres in neighbouring United Arab Emirates.
The two countries are still embroiled in a longstanding diplomatic crisis involving Saudi Arabia surrounding Qatar’s alleged support of terrorist groups in the region.
Microsoft’s cloud rival Amazon Web Services plans to launch three data centres in Bahrain this year and are also seeking to start operations in Saudi Arabia. Google has also signalled its intent to set up cloud shop in the country.
However, following the diplomatic scandal that erupted after the murder of Saudi dissident Jamal Khashoggi, Western tech companies have been distancing themselves from Riyadh. In October, Google withdrew Cloud CEO Diane Greene from the Future Investment Initiative Summit scheduled to be held in Riyadh.
At the same meeting where the Microsoft data centre was announced, the Qatari Cabinet also issued a draft law establishing a “Media City” – a modernization effort with notable parallels to that of regional rival Saudi Arabia.
According to The Peninsula, the Media City “aims at managing and developing media activity and attracting international media, technology companies, research and training institutions in the fields of media and digital media”.