Cloudflare, Inc., a security, performance, and reliability company, recently announced the opening of its first Middle East office in Dubai, UAE, as well as the appointment of Bashar Bashaireh as the company’s MD. Following the announcement, Bashar spoke with the media and shared his vision and leadership strategy in the current threat landscape. Read on to know more about what Cloudflare has been up to.
Give us an overview of your career in the technology industry.
I join Cloudflare with over two decades of experience, mostly in the cybersecurity and software industry, where over the past years I helped global technology providers establish and expand their presence and operation in the emerging markets, particularly in the Middle East and Turkey.
Prior to joining Cloudflare, I was the Managing Director and Head of Sales for Emerging Markets at CyberRes, the cybersecurity line of business at MicroFocus, managing the sales and business development across the Middle East, Africa, Brazil, Russia, CIS and CEE. Before that I led StarLink Value-Added Distribution as their CEO across a 22 country operation, managing their annual business of close to $500M. In addition, I held several leadership positions at major technology vendors such as Symantec, BlueCoat, Fortinet and CyberGuard.
What factors prompted you to join as regional head of Cloudflare?
Having worked in the domain of cyber security for more than two decades, I can see that Cloudflare is genuine in its mission of building a better Internet that is fast, safe and reliable for everyone. Being part of this journey that touches everyone’s life is surely an exciting thing to do.
Having spoken to so many customers in the region, I understand that nowadays more than ever, they need to be able to grow their operations by focusing on their core mission without having to worry about their technology. Cloudflare appears to me as one of the most innovative customer-centric companies in the market. More than just technology, we are on a mission to help to build a fast, reliable and secure Internet for a maximum number of people, businesses, and public organizations.
Cloudflare also has an exceptional company culture with key values such as diversity, principle, collaboration, innovation and transparency.
Finally, I enjoy the opportunity of launching operations from inception in the region. Building successful teams that can deliver future incremental growth and objectives and supporting our customers is an exciting challenge.
Is the opening of the new office in Dubai Cloudflare’s first foray into the Middle East region; can you give us some details about your intended operations in this region?
Today, Cloudflare’s network currently spans over 75 cities in the EMEA region including 16 physical locations in the Middle East and Turkey. Cloudflare first invested in the Middle East in 2015. Now with data centers spanning more than 270 cities in more than 100 countries worldwide, the company continues to grow its presence to be even closer to Internet-connected users everywhere.
Cloudflare has about 30 team members from different functions covering the Middle East. We plan to have a team of approximately 20 people working in Dubai by the end of 2022 and are currently planning to grow that number to over 30 by the end of 2023. We are hiring!
What are the opportunities that you see for Cloudflare in the region?
Cloudflare has been associated with delivering fast content over the cloud in a most reliable and secure manner, accounting for at least 20% of the global Internet traffic. Cloudflare can cater to and support all types of organizations (businesses and public sector) including those with a social mission. The Middle East and Turkey as an emerging market is characterized by a relatively young population, with 70% of it being under the age of 30. This dynamic youth segment has an insatiable demand for both content and knowledge. To that extent, there has been a rapid uptake in Internet use, and digital transformation initiatives have significantly accelerated over the past couple of years. This trend represents an opportunity for Cloudflare to add considerable value to regional enterprises and in doing so, increase its footprint and market share.
In addition, the region made up of 13 countries with fast-growing and innovation-driven economies presents a unique growth opportunity for Cloudflare to tap into. I can confidently say that this market is at the forefront of technology and early adopters of disruptive technologies such as cloud on a global scale. This is being driven by many factors such as Digital Transformation where several countries have embraced ambitious programs transforming them into true digital economies. Cloud uptake has accelerated over the past few years in the region and the necessary regulatory frameworks and related compliance policies are now in place to propel enterprises into the next phase of leveraging the benefits of cloud. This transformation is further accelerated as earlier mentioned, by a mostly young and content demanding population-that content being gaming, entertainment, educational, sports or online retail.
The recent pandemic has for sure played a major role in building up this momentum and increasing the urgency in speeding up such a transition.
The parallel increase of cyber threats and associated breaches put Cloudflare in an unparalleled and unique position to deliver the required content in a reliable, fast and secure manner to individuals, businesses and the public sector alike, elevating the levels of productivity and performance in addition to reducing complexity for users.
To do that, Cloudflare has built a global network and infrastructure across 275 cities around the world with 27 in the MET region, delivering the same connectivity at 50ms performance for more than 95% of customers. The innovation path is stunning. Not only do we provide best-in-class cyber security solutions with Cloudflare’s SASE security platform, Cloudflare One, a Zero Trust network-as-a-service platform that dynamically connects users to enterprise resources, with identity-based security controls delivered close to users, wherever they are, but we also offer an open strong developer platform with Cloudflare Workers.
What are your immediate priorities as a regional head?
Over the last two years, Cloudflare has grown its EMEA team by more than 100 percent and counts approximately 700 employees. For the Middle East and Turkey, the initial functions prioritized for the region include launching new data centers, increasing market share by building partnerships and expanding our customer base.
One of my priorities is to build a successful team by empowering current team members and attracting future talents that would all contribute to this journey.