Saudi Aramco is reportedly in talks with Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc about partnering to build a large technology hub in Saudi Arabia, according to a recent article by The Wall Street Journal, which cited sources familiar with the matter.
As part of the potential joint venture, Alphabet would help the state-owned oil giant build data centers around Saudi Arabia. Beyond that, details are scarce, with it being unclear whose data the centers would house or who would control them. The size of the potential venture is also up in the air, although it could be big enough to become listed on Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange, according to the WSJ report.
Senior executives at Saudi Aramco and Alphabet, including its CEO Larry Page, have reportedly been in talks for months about a deal, as per the report.
Such a partnership would be consistent with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 plan, which includes the development of digital infrastructure in the country as part of its strategy of economic diversification.
Although a partnership with Saudi Aramco would be significant, Alphabet is not alone in eyeing potential in setting up data centers in the region. With competition in cloud computing heating up in the Middle East, several global tech players have already invested in the establishment of data centers in the region.
In September 2017, Amazon’s cloud subsidiary Amazon Web Services announced plans to open its own data centers in the Middle East by early 2019, starting in Bahrain. Prior to that, Oracle and Germany’s SAP revealed plans to open data centers in the U.A.E.
China’s Alibaba is in the mix too, having established a cloud data center in Dubai in 2016.