Amazon Web Services is looking to expand into Saudi Arabia, a move that would give the cloud giant an early foothold in the Middle East cloud market that is largely untapped by American tech firms.
Reuters reported Thursday that AWS is in talks with the Saudi government about getting a license to directly offer cloud computing services.
Some parts of the Middle East — specifically oil rich countries like Saudi Arabia — are experiencing a boom in startups and businesses that require cloud computing, making it a ripe market for American cloud providers.
Earlier this year, AWS became the first — and only — American cloud provider to open data centers in the Middle East, with a new cloud region in Bahrain. That region would presumably be used to fulfill demand for cloud services inside Saudi Arabia until an in-country data center is needed.
The Saudi cloud market is currently controlled by local telcos STC and Mobily, but the entrance of AWS into the market would be sure to create increased competition.
AWS currently sells cloud tools in Saudi Arabia via third parties but has yet to establish a direct presence. And Saudi Arabia has been “streamlining its many overlapping laws which could apply to cloud computing for more than a year in order to attract service providers,” according to Reuters.
Amazon has been on Saudi priority list of foreign firms which officials hope to attract to further bolster the image of the country as a high-tech hub.
The Middle East has been targeted as a key market for AWS as its plots further global expansion. AWS says it is growing its presence in the Middle East with new offices and investments, more staff and programs to train startups.
“As countries in the Middle East look to transform their economies for generations to come, technology will play a major role, and the cloud will be in the middle of that transformation,” AWS chief Andy Jassy said in a statement announcing the company’s Bahrain cloud region.