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May 19 2022 11:49 AM ˚
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Aqaba has the potential to become a regional digital hub

Hamzeh
Hamzeh S. Al-Alayani is general manager at Edgo, worked with Petrofac, an international EPC energy company, in the Middle East, North Africa and UK, and he is a regular commentator on regional energy and industrial matters. (File photo: Jordan News)
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Aqaba, Jordan’s southernmost point, on the Gulf of Aqaba, has a strategic location at the tip of the Red Sea and at the crossroads of Asia and Africa. The city, with a population of 213,000 in 2020, a land area of 375 sq.km, and a 27-km-long seafront became a special economic zone in 2001, blossoming into a regional trade hub that exemplifies Jordan’s economic potential and resiliency.اضافة اعلان

The Aqaba region has attracted $20 billion worth of investment to date; this capital has effectively turned Aqaba into a business hub.

The region has become an economic engine, attracting billions in tourism and real estate investments through massive infrastructure and logistics projects on par with the best international urban standards. As such, Aqaba should become a more diversified ecosystem and economic catalyst for a wealth of new projects in logistics, technology, energy, water sector, and manufacturing, to become a hub with eco-friendly regulations.

The city should expand its horizon by resorting to green strategy to boost the Kingdom’s economic growth and benefit from the disruption in high-tech business through scaling up projects, like data centers, for example. The cloud drives the digital world and the scalable applications it hosts. Companies are hungry for processing power. Digitization plays a considerable role in boosting the economy, the digital economy to be more specific, which keeps on growing with no end in sight. With this, demand for computing technologies and data processing also grows.

Over 2.5 quintillion bytes of data are created every day, and the number is growing rapidly. It is estimated that 1.7 MB of data will be created every second for every person on earth. This means that data puts enormous pressure on the IT infrastructure, and that demand for data centers, through which businesses carry and process colossal data workloads, will also increase. That should increase the focus on hyper-scale data center infrastructure. Data centers have always been at the forefront of innovation and have helped the services business sector to grow.
Aqaba could be the most prominent location for data center investment in the Middle East. Robust network connectivity, inexpensive renewable energy, skilled IT employees, and rapid growth in the adoption of cloud, big data, and Internet of Things services have been solid enablers of growth of the Jordanian data center industry.
Data centers represent add to the economic growth through the digital economy, and generate employment.

According to the research firm RTI International, for one data center five jobs are being supported elsewhere in the economy. For example, technology giant Google’s data centers have generated $1.3 billion in economic activity, provided 11,000 jobs throughout the US, and generated $750 million in labor income. In 2020, the company announced plans to invest more than $10 billion in offices and data centers across 11 US states.

Aqaba could be the most prominent location for data center investment in the Middle East. Robust network connectivity, inexpensive renewable energy, skilled IT employees, and rapid growth in the adoption of cloud, big data, and Internet of Things services have been solid enablers of growth of the Jordanian data center industry.

The digital transition should bring Aqaba closer to becoming a regional digital leader and a competitive regional logistics hub. This transition should help the outstanding infrastructure to localize services and attract other digital investments, such as FinTech, cloud service providers, gaming publishers, video streaming service operators, and content delivery networks.


The writer is general manager at Edgo, worked with Petrofac, an international EPC energy company, in the Middle East, North Africa and UK, and he is a regular commentator on regional energy and industrial matters.


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