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Google to fund AI research at Saudi university Kaust

Google is aiming to match faculty members at Kaust with its own AI researchers Google
Google is aiming to match faculty members at Kaust with its own researchers
  • $100,000 Google grant for Saudi AI research
  • New AI centre of excellence
  • Kingdom has big AI ambitions

Google is providing research grants into artificial intelligence at Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (Kaust).  

The $100,000 grants will boost recognised Kaust researchers doing work in multilingual and multimodal machine learning, and the development of large language models. 

The academic staff will be associated with its new Centre of Excellence on Generative AI. 

“Google will also aim to match each faculty awardee with a Google researcher who can serve as their sponsor,” Kaust said in a statement that outlined the AI projects receiving Google funding. 

Saudi Arabia is investing widely in AI. US IT company World Wide Technology is partnering with state oil company Aramco’s IT arm Aramco Digital to help raise its $3.11 billion market by 42.6 percent per year up to 2030. 

In February, the Public Investment Fund’s governor, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, said Saudi Arabia had the “political will” and ample funds to make the kingdom a leading AI centre outside the US. 

The Saudi government is working with US major Microsoft Arabia on a project to integrate AI across Saudi media platforms. 

But Gulf states are coming under US pressure to reduce their tech ties with US rival China. 

In May Aramco’s venture capital fund Prosperity7 joined a $400 million investment round for Chinese generative AI startup Zhipu AI – the first instance of foreign investment in China’s quest to establish a homegrown rival to OpenAI. 

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