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UAE Aims to Become Global AI Tech Hub with US Support

UAE seeks US support to produce advanced semiconductors, aiming to become a global AI technology hub.

By Athena Xu

5/9, 10:05 EDT
GlobalFoundries Inc.
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Key Takeaway

  • The UAE is pursuing a strategic initiative to produce advanced semiconductors, aiming to become a global AI technology hub with US support.
  • This move includes distancing from China and has attracted interest from AI leaders like OpenAI's Sam Altman and investment in GlobalFoundries Inc.
  • Challenges include navigating US government approvals due to past Beijing ties and attracting international talent for next-generation chip production.

UAE Eyes Advanced Semiconductor Production

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is actively seeking support from the United States to become a producer of advanced semiconductors, highlighting its ambition to be a leading hub for artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Omar Al Olama, the UAE’s minister of state for artificial intelligence, emphasized the importance of sustainable and long-term partnerships, particularly with the United States, to achieve this goal. He noted that the initiative is in its early stages but crucial for the UAE's strategic positioning in the global AI landscape.

Strategic Shift and International Interest

In an effort to become a regional powerhouse in artificial intelligence, the UAE has made significant investments in the sector. This includes a strategic pivot away from China, aiming to alleviate concerns from the US government. The global increase in AI applications has spiked the demand for advanced semiconductors, which are essential for processing the vast amounts of data used by AI technologies. The UAE's ambitions have attracted attention from notable figures in the AI community, including OpenAI’s Sam Altman, who has approached Abu Dhabi regarding funding for an advanced semiconductor venture. Additionally, the UAE’s sovereign wealth fund has invested in GlobalFoundries Inc., a major player in the chipmaking industry.

Challenges and Opportunities

Despite the enthusiasm for establishing advanced semiconductor manufacturing capabilities in the UAE, several challenges loom on the horizon. Collaboration with US companies, a critical component of the UAE's plan, may require approval from the US government due to the region's historical ties with Beijing. Furthermore, the UAE will need to attract international talent and expertise to develop these cutting-edge technologies. Minister Omar Al Olama clarified that the UAE aims to focus on the production of next-generation chips, rather than competing in the market for cheaper, less advanced models. He stated, “The UAE cannot compete with a larger country with a lot more labor that’s able to provide these at par or sub-par chips for a cheaper price.”

Management Quotes

  • Omar Al Olama, UAE’s minister of state for artificial intelligence:

    "The only way this will work is if we’re able to build sustainable and long-term partnerships with countries like the United States where we are able to build cutting-edge chips."