Saudi Arabia has attracted several billion dollars in investments from major technology companies interested in establishing cloud computing centres in the region.
According to Reuters, Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha discussed the investments at the LEAP conference, which began today in Riyadh, the country’s capital city. Microsoft and Oracle are both investing billions of dollars in the country, with Microsoft investing $2.1 billion and Oracle investing $1.5 billion. Huawei, a Chinese technology company, is also said to be investing $400 million.
“The investments… will strengthen the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the Middle East and North Africa’s largest digital market,” Alswaha said at LEAP, according to Reuters.
While the timing of these investments is unknown, Oracle told Reuters that its funds will be distributed over a number of years. Alswaha is enticing these companies with government contracts, and while details are scarce, it’s likely that Saudi Arabia is providing them with prime real estate at a low cost in order for them to build their cloud computing centres in Riyadh.
If the name NEOM sounds familiar, it’s because it’s the Saudi crown prince’s own project, The Line, a thin, mirrored mega-city that would span 105 miles of Saudi Arabian desert. The Line is a massive feat of engineering that is only one of NEOM’s futuristic cities. Despite some criticism and skepticism, The Line did break ground in October and was still under construction as of December.
The investments are part of Saudi Arabia’s planned shift away from oil and toward technology, dubbed Vision 2030. Tonomus, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s own architecture, engineering, and sustainability conglomerate NEOM, has already made a $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence and the metaverse.