Aramco, Alphabet in Talks to Establish ‘Saudi Silicon Valley’

Aramco, Alphabet in Talks to Establish ‘Saudi Silicon Valley’

Friday, 2 February, 2018 - 19:15
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (SPA)
Asharq Al-Awsat
Talks are underway between Saudi Aramco and Google parent Alphabet Inc to jointly build a technology hub in the Kingdom, reported the Wall Street Journal.

It is not clear specifically whose data the centers would house or who would control them, the WSJ said.

Alphabet rivals Apple Inc and Amazon Inc are in licensing discussions with Riyadh on investing in Saudi Arabia as part of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s push to give the kingdom a high-tech look, according to a Reuters report in December.

A joint venture between Alphabet and Aramco could help Saudi Aramco expand into the United States, a goal for the oil company. The size of the potential venture is unclear, although it could be big enough to become listed on Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, according to the Journal report.

It was unclear where Aramco would list its shares ahead of an initial public offering that could turn it into the world’s largest publicly traded company.

Senior executives at Aramco and Alphabet have been in talks for months on the potential joint venture, people familiar with the issue said.

The talks have included Alphabet Chief Executive Larry Page and have been encouraged by Prince Mohammed, who is enamored with Silicon Valley and wants to bring more tech expertise to the kingdom, some of the people said.

Amazon is meanwhile also close to finalizing a $1 billion deal to build three data centers in Saudi Arabia, people familiar with that deal said. The deal is expected to be announced during a trip to the US by Prince Mohammed early this year.

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