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China’s Huawei opens cloud data center in Riyadh to grow MENA footprint

The Chinese telecoms giant said in February it would invest $400 million in Saudi Arabia's cloud region over the next five years.

Huawei Technologies has opened a cloud data center in the Saudi capital, Riyadh, to grow the company’s footprint in the Middle East and North Africa, the Chinese telecoms firm announced Monday.

The new cloud center will support government services for the kingdom and allow for artificial intelligence (AI) applications and language models in Arabic, a Huawei official told a briefing, Reuters reported. 

"The implementation of Huawei cloud is not just about us but is a bridge that will bring other Chinese companies to Saudi Arabia," said Steven Yi, the company's regional president. 

In a statement on the data center, Yi added that Saudi Arabia “consistently attracts top investors.”

Haitham bin Abdul Rahman Al-Ohali, vice minister at the Saudi Arabian Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, said, "Huawei is a proud partner in our country's technological progress, having worked with the ministry, service providers, enterprises and universities in various collective efforts toward digital transformation. We look forward to the transformative impact the Huawei Cloud Riyadh Region will have on our digital ecosystem, creating new avenues for innovation and growth."

The US government has previously warned Middle Eastern allies against doing business with the Chinese firm, which has been accused of intellectual theft and being linked to Uyghur Muslim surveillance projects in the western Xinjiang region.

The Chinese telecoms giant said in February it would invest $400 million in the Saudi Arabia cloud region over the next five years. Huawei Cloud will train 200,000 developers in the kingdom over that time period. It also plans to build joint solutions with 1,000 local partners and launch the Huawei Cloud Startup Program to help 2,000 startups grow, the company announced.

Eric Yang, CEO of Huawei Saudi Arabia, said, "It has been a great journey for us in Saudi Arabia for the last 20 years. Huawei is a constructor for an intelligent society, contributor to a thriving economy and cultivator for a prosperous talent ecosystem. Toward 2030, we will stay dedicated to continuously providing ubiquitous connectivity, green energy, pervasive cloud computing and AI capabilities for Saudi Arabia to unlock unlimited opportunities of the new digital era."

Huawei Saudi Arabia was founded in 2002. The company supported the rollout of 5G in the kingdom and helped connect 3.5 million people in rural areas, created 20,000 local jobs and trained around 10,000 people in information and communications technology.

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