United Arab Emirates real estate magnate Sajwani is betting $1 billion on data centers

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Emirati real estate tycoon Hussain Sajwani will invest US$1 billion to build a global network of data centers as part of his recently launched Edgnex venture, marking a turning point towards digitization after two decades in the brick-and-mortar real estate business.

“We will build data centers in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Middle East,” Sajwani told CNBC on Wednesday. “We want to build a global company and we’re committing $1 billion to that business and we’re going global to leave our footprint on all these four continents,” he added.

Sajwani, who founded Damac Properties in the early 2000s and made a fortune building apartments, hotels and golf courses in and around Dubai, said data centers are a natural evolution of his business as the pandemic drives the shift towards digital work and play accelerated.

“We have the money, we’ve hired a very good team… and we believe we can build them for a more reasonable price than our competitors,” Sajwani said. Edgnex, the new wholly owned data center company of which he is the founder and chairman, has already earmarked five properties for data center development, including three in Saudi Arabia, two in Turkey and one in Ireland.

This comes as demand for data center infrastructure has increased due to the pandemic, drawing interest from traditional commercial real estate developers and investors to diversify their interests. In recent years, major technology companies in the data center and cloud computing space have expanded into the Middle East as trade and investment in the region increases.

Cloud computing giant Amazon Web Services (AWS) will expand into the United Arab Emirates, opening an “infrastructure region” in the country in the first half of 2022 after entering the Gulf for the first time, an AWS Availability Zone in Bahrain. In 2019, Microsoft opened its first data centers in the Middle East in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

“We’re not going to build the shelves, we’re renting the space,” Sajwani said. Edgnex will target “hyperscalers” such as Google, Amazon and Microsoft to lease its facilities for use in emerging or underserved markets around the world.

“The next step is co-location. If we build 20 megawatts, a “hyperscaler” can hold 15, and we can lease the other five to banks and large institutions,” he said. According to a recent study by PWC, Edgnex also plans to launch smaller edge data centers in the coming years, targeting a market that is expected to be worth $13.5 billion by 2024.

https://www.cnbc.com/2022/03/17/uae-property-tycoon-sajwani-makes-1-billion-bet-on-data-centers.html United Arab Emirates real estate magnate Sajwani is betting $1 billion on data centers

Joshua Buckhalter

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