Alibaba unit teams up with Dubai’s Meraas

Alibaba’s cloud-computing subsidiary is teaming up with Dubai-based Meraas Holding as the company uses its technology to extend its influence beyond China.

The joint venture of Alibaba’s Aliyun and Meraas will provide a broad swath of technology to businesses and governments in the Middle East and North Africa. Jack Ma, Alibaba’s executive chairman, and the rest of the Hangzhou, China-based multinational’s management team, laid the groundwork for the deal in a meeting last September with Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, Aliyun president Simon Hu said in an interview.

The collaboration is “based on the Alibaba international strategy as well as the development of the Chinese international strategy,” Mr Hu said. “Aliyun will export its technology capabilities and help Dubai to build its data capacity.”

The joint venture will provide technical services for transportation, communication, urban infrastructure, electricity service, economic development, and urban planning, as well as cloud computing, Mr Hu said. In a presentation to investors this month, Alibaba said that an expansion of cloud computing services was a priority for the coming fiscal year.

“At the end of this year or next year, no matter where you are when you go to Dubai, no matter whether eating or sightseeing, you will encounter one of the infrastructures that is provided by Aliyun,” Mr Hu said.

As part of the venture, Aliyun and Meraas will build a technology hub consisting of a data centre, along with hospitality, residential and commercial spaces. By expanding its cloud abroad, Aliyun ratchets up competition with companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Amazon. These US firms haven’t put large data centres in the Middle East.

“Dubai has a lot of resources, especially oil resources, and it needs not only natural resources but technology resources,” Mr Hu said. “We can be the case study for Dubai and China companies, especially China high-tech companies.”

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