Middle East’s AI ambitions caught between US-China chip war


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Samuel Wendel

Senior Market Research Analyst, Al-Monitor


Sep. 11, 2023

Bottom Line:

The Middle East is becoming a key theater of operations in the US-China tech war — with semiconductor chips squarely in the crosshairs. The latest salvo came in August, when news surfaced that the United States had expanded export restrictions on Nvidia’s coveted AI chips to include some Middle East countries alongside China, potentially dealing a blow to the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s AI ambitions. This adds heft to Washington’s warning that it will “protect” its advanced technology as Gulf states grow cooperation with China. Beijing is dealing blows too: in August, China crushed US tech giant Intel’s $5.4 billion acquisition of Israeli chipmaker Tower Semiconductor. Looking ahead, the US-China chip war should continue bleeding into the Middle East, making this a moment of uncertainty and opportunity for regional power players with much to gain and lose as AI booms.

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