The country of Saudi Arabia has scrounged up several billion dollars in investments from major tech companies, which are interested in building cloud computing centers in the region.
According to Reuters, the Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha discussed the investments at LEAP, an international technology conference that began today in Riyadh, the country’s capital city. Players like Microsoft and Oracle are investing billions of dollars into the country, with Microsoft forking over $2.1 billion while Oracle invests $1.5 billion. Huawei, a Chinese tech company, is also investing a reported $400 million.
“The investments... will enhance the kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s position as the largest digital market in the Middle East and North Africa,” Alswaha said at LEAP, as quoted by Reuters.
While the timeline of these investments is not clear, Oracle told Reuters that its funds will be distributed over several years. Alswaha is tempting these companies with government contracts, and while details are scant, it’s likely that Saudi Arabia is giving them prime real estate for a low cost to build their cloud computing centers in Riyadh.
The investments are a part of Saudi Arabia’s planned pivot away from oil and toward tech, which the country is calling Vision 2030. That pivot is already underway as Tonomus, a subsidiary of Saudi Arabia’s own architecture, engineering, and sustainability amalgamation called NEOM made a $1 billion investment in artificial intelligence and the metaverse.
If NEOM sounds familiar it’s because it is the Saudi Arabian crown prince’s own project that made headlines with a plan for The Line, a thin, mirrored mega-city that would span 105 miles of the Saudi Arabian desert. The Line is an absolutely massive feat of engineering and is only one of a few of NEOM’s futuristic cities. Despite its fair share of criticism and skepticism, The Line did in fact break ground in October and as of December, construction was still ongoing.