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Saudi Arabia reportedly wants to attract 50 chipmaking firms to the country by 2030

Friday, June 7, 2024

Saudi Arabia is looking to diversify its economy away from crude oil, and is turning to what some consider its modern day equivalent: semiconductors.

The kingdom announced its National Semiconductor Hub Wednesday to develop semiconductor companies that can design new chips, saying that it wants to attract 50 firms to Saudi Arabia by 2030. The hub will focus on simple chips for now — not advanced chips essential to generative artificial intelligence and military technology, Bloomberg reported. Chip manufacturing will reportedly be done abroad in the medium-term.

“We’re not trying to replace Nvidia or challenge Intel,” Naveed Sherwani, head of the National Semiconductor Hub, told Bloomberg. “We want to do humble beginnings. Once we have built a base, then we can talk.” Sherwani told Bloomberg the hub is currently focused on relocating and establishing new chip companies without fabs, or fabrication sites, which is where chips are manufactured. He added that the hub already has three companies signed up and ten others showing interest.

“We want to make this place feel like Silicon Valley,” Sherwani told Bloomberg. “We’ve freed space. We provide them all kind of incentives for salary, for relocation. In total there are 10 incentives we will provide to anybody that wants to start a company here.”

Despite the focus on simple chips rather than advanced ones, Saudi Arabia has shown strong interest in becoming a major player in the AI race. The kingdom’s Public Investment Fund, which invests in U.S. tech startups, has reportedly set aside $40 billion to invest in AI technology. The fund is working with top U.S. firms, including Andreessen Horowitz, the New York Times reported in March.

Meanwhile, the U.S. has reportedly slowed down the process of issuing licenses to major chipmakers, including Nvidia and Advanced Micro Devices, for shipping large-scale AI accelerators to the Middle East while officials conduct a national security review of the AI technology being developed in the region. Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates currently import large quantities of chips for AI data centers.

By: DocMemory
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