RIYADH (Reuters) – Saudi Arabia has attracted more than $9 billion in investments in future technologies, including by U.S. giants Microsoft and Oracle Corp, which are building cloud regions in the kingdom, a government minister said on Monday.
Saudi Minister of Communication and Information Technology Abdullah Alswaha said Microsoft will invest $2.1 billion in a global super-scaler cloud, while Oracle has committed $1.5 billion to build a new cloud region in Riyadh.
“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, an international technology forum taking place in Riyadh.
Alswaha did not give details on the timeframe. Oracle told Reuters the investment will be made over several years.
Saudi officials have pressed international companies to invest in the kingdom and move their regional headquarters to Riyadh in order to benefit from government contracts.
The kingdom has been pouring hundreds of billions of dollars into an economic plan, known as Vision 2030, led by its de facto ruler Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
But it has struggled to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), one of the pillars of Vision 2030, which aims to diversify the economy away from oil.
The minister said China’s Huawei will also invest $400 million in cloud infrastructure for its services in Saudi Arabia and another cloud region in partnership with oil giant Aramco.
An additional $4.5 billion was invested in global and local assets across multiple sectors at the forum, Alswaha added.
Tonomus, a subsidiary of the $500 billion signature NEOM project of the crown prince, said last year it invested $1 billion in 2022 in AI, including a metaverse platform.
Increased demand for cloud computing has pushed technology companies such as Oracle, Microsoft, Amazon and Alphabet’s Google to set up data centres across the world to speed up data transfer.
(Reporting by Aziz El Yaakoubi; Editing by Sharon Singleton)