Saudi Arabia and UAE secure Nvidia GPUs in race to build AI industry

Saudi Arabia and UAE secure Nvidia GPUs in race to build AI industry
The purchases come as both Saudi Arabia and the UAE accelerate their economic transformation away from oil, which has most recently seen the countries invest heavily in the gaming industry.
2 min read
16 August, 2023
Nvidia H100 Graphics Processing Units are the latest GPU to be released by Nvidia [Getty]

Saudi Arabia and the UAE are buying thousands of the latest Nvidia Graphics Processing Units (GPUs) in a bid to build an AI industrial base alongside the powerhouses of the US and China.

As part of this plan Saudi Arabia has bought 3,000 of the latest H100 GPUs from Nvdia worth $120 million, with the UAE buying thousands more, according to the Financial Times.

The GPUs cost $40,000 each, and were described by Nvidia Chief Jensen Huang as the "the world’s first computer [chip] designed for generative AI."

It comes as the two countries accelerate their ambitious developmental plans, known as Vision 2030 in Saudi Arabia and Vision 2031 in the UAE, that aim to transition their economies away from the oil industry.

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Saudi Arabia’s purchase was done through the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) which currently owns 200 of Nvidia's previous generation A100 GPUs.

Through the university Saudi Arabia will develop a supercomputer known as Shaheen III, run off 700 Nvidia superchips called Grace Hopper, and will build its own large language model like OpenAI’s GPT-4.

The UAE, which established the world’s first AI ministry in 2017, is seeking to build off its existing language model, Falcon.

Falcon was trained on Nvidia’s A100 GPU and developed by the Technology Innovation Institute in Masdar City.

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As well as developing its AI industry to compete in the global AI race, both countries are investing heavily in other technological fields such as the gaming industry.

Saudi Arabia’s newly formed Savvy Games Group, part of its Public Investment Fund (PIF), will invest $39 billion into the video games industry and follows from the PIF’s recent investments into video game giants Nintendo and Activision Blizzard.

Likewise, the UAE aims to become a global hub for gaming through its own initiative AD Gaming which was launched in 2021. It recently partnered with video game company Razer which develops some of the industry's most well known hardware.