Nvidia launches in Middle East amid US AI export clampdown: Report

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Nvidia has reportedly struck a deal to deploy its artificial intelligence (AI) technology in Qatari-owned data centers located in multiple countries across the Middle East.

In a June 24 Reuters report, the CEO of Qatari telecom group Ooredoo Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo said that the deal will make the company the first in the region to open the doors for its clients to gain direct access to Nvidia’s AI and graphics technology.

Advanced AI technology now in Middle East

The telecom company has clients in Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia, Oman, Kuwait and the Maldives. Fakhroo said the agreement allows these clients access “that probably their competitors (won’t have) for another 18 to 24 months.” 

Nvidia will install technology in Ooredoo’s data center, though the specific type of Nvidia technology to be installed has not been disclosed. The installation will depend on customer demand and the availability of the technology. The financial details of the deal were also not revealed.

Ooredoo has plans to invest upwards of $1 billion in its region data center to boost its capacity 20-25 additional megawatts. This would be an addition to the 40 megawatts it currently runs off of.

By the end of the decade, Fakhroo said that it plans to triple that amount. Ronnie Vasishta, the senior vice president of telecom at Nvidia, said its technology will help Ooredoo to better serve its clients in deploying generative AI applications.

Related: Nvidia doubles down on AI future as stock market cap tops $2.5T

AI export curbs continue

The deal between Oooredoo and Nvidia is the AI chip manufacturer’s first large-scale launch in a region subject to export curves imposed by the United States. 

In August 2023, U.S. officials extended export curbs on high-level Nvidia AI chips to “some Middle Eastern countries” as part of their efforts to prevent Chinese companies from gaining access to the newest AI technology through backdoor countries.

This development also follows Nvidia’s becoming the world’s most valuable publicly traded company this June, with a current market capitalization of roughly $3.34 trillion.

This is a slight lead over Microsoft’s $3.32 trillion and Apple’s $3.29 trillion market valuations.

Nvidia is responsible for providing nearly 80% of all sophisticated AI semiconductor chips used in high-end data centers worldwide.

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