Microsoft has announced its plans to launch its first cloud region in Israel, starting with the construction of a data center to serve customers’ data residency needs.

In compliance with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), Microsoft cloud services, starting with Azure will be offered from this new data center facility and followed by Office 365.

“When I speak to customers across EMEA, it is clear that the power of the cloud is essential for their competitiveness. We have made significant infrastructure investments in the region and with this announcement, our planned region in Israel will join a growing number of EMEA markets recently made available including Germany, Norway, South Africa and Switzerland,” said Michel van der Bel, President, Microsoft Europe, Middle East and Africa.

As a Middle Eastern country, the Israeli Azure data center will be Microsoft’s third facility in the geographical region, joining the two cloud data centers located in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, UAE which were opened in June, last year.

Microsoft first stepped into Israel in 1989 with the opening of a local office branch, and in 1991, it established the company’s first Israeli Research and Development center – its first R&D center outside of the US.

“Microsoft has made a strategic decision to invest in the Israeli market. This investment marks an extremely important milestone in the company’s engagement with the start-up nation, as we recently marked the 30th anniversary of our presence in the country,” said Ronit Atad, General Manager, Microsoft Israel.

“Public sector entities, enterprise companies and developers will have access to scalable, highly available, and resilient cloud services to accelerate their digital transformation journeys. This will help them better engage customers, empower employees, optimize operations, and transform products and services from the new cloud region in Israel.”

The new Israeli cloud facility will add Microsoft’s global cloud infrastructure to 56 cloud regions, spread across 21 countries.