Big Data

Saudi Arabia attracts $10 billion to build data centers

Amazon Web Services will pour more than $5.3 billion into the kingdom

Crowds at LEAP24, the tech exhibition underway in Riyadh (Photo: LEAP)

Crowds at LEAP24, the tech exhibition underway in Riyadh (Photo: LEAP)

Ten billion. That was the figure that caught everybody’s attention at Day 1 of LEAP24, the buzzing tech exhibition now underway in Riyadh.

Saudi Arabia announced on Monday it has attracted over $10 billion in investment from Amazon Web Services and other tech companies to build data centers, the critical infrastructure to support its ambitions in artificial intelligence.

AWS, Amazon’s cloud division, said it plans to open the data centers in 2026 and will pour more than $5.3 billion into the kingdom.

The Seattle, Washington-based colossus is one of many international firms that have set up regional headquarters in Saudi Arabia in response to a January 2024 deadline set by the kingdom for foreign firms to establish HQs in the country or lose out on big government contracts.

Meanwhile, Saudi Aramco unveiled a large language model called AramcoMetabrain, which is built on 90 years’ worth of company data.

Aramco President and CEO Amin H. Nasser said the aim is to make the world’s largest oil company more productive.

Aramco also announced a new partnership with Grok, a U.S.-based AI chip company that it says can offer a faster implementation of AI. ADNOC, which has been developing AI tools for several years, said today it has generated $500 million of additional value in 2023 by using AI.

Alat, the new sustainable technology manufacturing company launched last month and backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund, said it plans to team up with Riyadh research university King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology to boost the development of the semiconductor industry in the kingdom.

Amit Midha, CEO of Alat, laid out his vision for the company in a keynote at LEAP on Monday: “Imagine purchasing a phone that has been assembled by intelligent robots – in an automated factory, in a smart city, in Saudi Arabia, powered by clean energy.” 

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