Economic diversification: UAE and US to see more AI partnerships

Economic diversification: UAE and US to see more AI partnerships


Minister says it is part of strategic partnership

  • The oil rich Gulf State is striving to become a global leader amid efforts aimed at reducing reliance on oil
  • On the other hand, Saudi Arabia is pitching itself as a prospective hub for AI activity outside the United States
  • Earlier in March, Amazon announced more than $5.3bn in the kingdom
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DUBAI (Reuters/Web Desk) – The United Arab Emirates and United States will invest more in artificial intelligence as part of a strategic partnership, the UAE's state minister for AI Omar Sultan Al Olama told Reuters on Tuesday.

The UAE, led by government-backed firm G42, is striving to become a global leader in AI, invested heavily in it to help the Gulf nation diversify away from oil.

Read more: Dubai DXB airport sees record 2024 traffic, IMF upgrades UAE growth projection

The stakes have risen as neighbouring Saudi Arabia has begun pitching itself as a prospective hub for AI activity outside the United States.

"In terms of our investments, since the US is now considering the UAE as a strategic partner, and the UAE is reciprocating that by considering the US as a strategic partner, you will see more deals naturally", Al Olama said on the sidelines of an event in Dubai.

Microsoft is investing $1.5 billion in G42, the two companies announced last month, giving the US giant a minority stake and a board seat and allowing the two to deepen ties.

As part of the deal, which the two companies said was backed by assurances to the US and UAE governments over security, G42 would use Microsoft cloud services to run its AI applications.

That partnership comes amid Washington's efforts to hobble Beijing's technological advances, with the United States adding four Chinese companies to an exports blacklist for seeking to acquire AI chips for China's military.

Asked about further potential divestment of Chinese tech companies by the UAE, Al Olama said "government-to-government the UAE is a neutral country, and in that sense, we are going to be a country that allows the world to do business in the UAE."

Having a diversified energy mix, including nuclear energy, was key for attracting AI investment to the tiny Gulf country, he said.

"So we have spoken about [small modular nuclear reactors] with the relevant parties," but there were no concrete plans yet in this regard, the minister said.

AMAZON INVESTMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA's cloud division Amazon Web Services earlier in March announced that it will launch data centres in Saudi Arabia in 2026 and plans to invest more than $5.3 billion in the kingdom.

The cloud region will enable customers to securely store content and run workloads while offering higher speed for its users.

Read more: IBM makes more AI models open source and lands Saudi Arabia deal

Amazon and its cloud competitors Google-parent Alphabet and Microsoft have said they will raise their investments, primarily for data centres, to support the growing adoption of artificial intelligence technologies.

Amazon said customers in the region that use AWS to run workloads include Saudi Telecom Company, Seera Holding and Mobily among others.

Apple and Amazon, led by its AWS unit, were in discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia, Reuters reported in 2017.

Earlier, the head of Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund (PIF) sovereign wealth fund pitched the kingdom as a prospective hub for AI activity outside the United States, citing its energy resources and funding capacity.