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Saudi Arabia “plans” $40bn push into artificial intelligence

Saudi Arabia plans to create a fund of about $40bn to invest in artificial intelligence (AI), the New York Times reported on Tuesday.

Representatives of Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) have discussed a potential partnership with US venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz and other financiers in recent weeks.

Andreessen Horowitz and PIF governor Yasir Al-Rumayyan have discussed the possibility of the US firm setting up an office in Riyadh, according to the report.

PIF officials also discussed what role Andreessen Horowitz could play and how such a fund would work, the newspaper said, adding the plans could still change.

Other venture capitalists may participate in the kingdom’s AI fund, which is expected to commence in the second half of 2024.

Saudi representatives have indicated to potential partners that the country is interested in supporting a variety of tech start-ups associated with AI, including chip makers and large-scale data centres, the report added.

PIF and Andreessen Horowitz did not immediately respond to requests for comment from Reuters.

Last month, PIF’s Al-Rumayyan pitched the kingdom as a prospective hub for AI activity outside the US, citing its energy resources and funding capacity.

Al-Rumayyan had said the kingdom had the “political will” to make AI projects happen and ample funds it could deploy to nurture the technology’s development.