The AI Oasis: Data Center Duel in the Desert

The AI Oasis: Data Center Duel in the Desert
đź‘‹ Hi, I am Mark. I am a strategic futurist and innovation keynote speaker. I advise governments and enterprises on emerging technologies such as AI or the metaverse. My subscribers receive a free weekly newsletter on cutting-edge technology.

In a world where data is the new oil, Saudi Arabia and the UAE are locked in a fervent race, not over petroleum but over the prowess of artificial intelligence. In this contest, every megawatt and data centre counts, echoing the broader global rush towards AI supremacy, yet underscored by the unique challenges and ambitions of the desert sheikhdoms.

The Middle East, particularly Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is currently in the stage of intense construction. The construction of these data centres in the harsh desert environment presents a set of unique challenges, ranging from extreme heat to the need for innovative cooling technologies.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are exploring advanced solutions like liquid and immersion cooling to protect valuable equipment and ensure operational efficiency. Beyond the technical hurdles, these nations face a talent shortage, requiring skilled labour to manage and maintain these complex facilities.

Amidst this ambitious expansion, geopolitical considerations loom large. Placing data centres within a nation's borders is not only a technical decision but a strategic one, influencing data sovereignty and international partnerships. Controversies around data privacy and human rights further complicate engagements with global tech giants, even as these Gulf states seek to position themselves as emerging powerhouses in the global AI landscape.

As Saudi Arabia and the UAE each push forward, racing not just against each other but against the world, they encapsulate a broader narrative about the role of technology in shaping geopolitical destinies. Their efforts to become regional AI superpowers reflect a convergence of technology, economy, and strategy, pointing to a future where the mastery of AI and data infrastructure could be as crucial to national success as oil reserves once were.

Amidst this backdrop, the true test will be balancing rapid technological advancement with sustainable development and ethical considerations, ensuring that AI supremacy fosters broad societal benefits and aligns with global standards for innovation, security, and human rights.

Read the full story on Bloomberg.


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Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr Mark van Rijmenam

Dr. Mark van Rijmenam is a strategic futurist known as The Digital Speaker. He stands at the forefront of the digital age and lives and breathes cutting-edge technologies to inspire Fortune 500 companies and governments worldwide. As an optimistic dystopian, he has a deep understanding of AI, blockchain, the metaverse, and other emerging technologies, and he blends academic rigour with technological innovation.

His pioneering efforts include the world’s first TEDx Talk in VR in 2020. In 2023, he further pushed boundaries when he delivered a TEDx talk in Athens with his digital twin , delving into the complex interplay of AI and our perception of reality. In 2024, he launched a digital twin of himself offering interactive, on-demand conversations via text, audio or video in 29 languages, thereby bridging the gap between the digital and physical worlds – another world’s first.

As a distinguished 5-time author and corporate educator, Dr Van Rijmenam is celebrated for his candid, independent, and balanced insights. He is also the founder of Futurwise , which focuses on elevating global digital awareness for a responsible and thriving digital future.


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