Alibaba Cloud launched in 2009 and now has 52 international data centers. Photo: Reuters/Bobby Yip

Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of China’s e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, continued with it’s global expansion program on Monday with the launch of a new data center in Dubai.

The company plans to open three more overseas data centers in Europe, Australia and Japan by the end of 2016, adding to the two in North America, one in Singapore and one in Hong Kong. It has also established six data centers in mainland China.

This year’s new additions reinforce the company’s ambitions to compete with the leading market players Amazon and Microsoft.

“Amazon and Microsoft are quite competitive in the global market, but they are relatively weak in China,” said Ethan Yu, the general manager of Alibaba Cloud Global Business in an interview with Shanghai’s The Paper.

The unit has become the fast-growing of Alibaba’s businesses with consecutive triple-digit growth during the past six quarters, thanks to the government’s desire to boost domestic cloud computing technology and restricting licenses to foreign service providers.

The company’s first foray into the Middle East is aimed at attracting business from the North African market to further challenge the two American giants.

It is also seen as an important part of the Beijing’s One Belt One Road initiatives to connect with countries in Asia, Africa and Europe through land and sea routes.

The launch of the Dubai center could also encourage other Chinese companies to follow suit and expand to the Middle East.

The new market share in the Middle East is expected to fuel the company’s growing client base beyond the current 2.3 million.

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