Ooredoo CEO, Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo, attends an interview with Reuters in Doha. Image Credit: Reuters

Qatari telecoms giant Ooredoo Group signed a milestone deal with Nvidia Corp., with governments, enterprises, and startups in Qatar, Algeria, Tunisia, Oman, Kuwait, and the Maldives now getting access to the global AI chip manufacturer's latest full-stack AI platform - a first in the Middle East.

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The deal comes at a time when US officials have slowed the issuing of licenses to chipmakers such as Nvidia Corp. and Advanced Micro Devices Inc for large-scale AI accelerator shipments to the Middle East, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg, while officials conduct a national security review of AI development in the region.

By becoming an NVIDIA Cloud Partner, Ooredoo said it hopes to become a key digital infrastructure provider in the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region."Through this collaboration, Ooredoo is leveraging NVIDIA’s advanced accelerated computing platform to help enable the AI revolution in the region," it said in a statement.

"Capitalising on the significant market demand for accelerated computing and hyperconnectivity across its MENA footprint, Ooredoo is developing an AI-ready platform powered by NVIDIA’s full-stack innovation across systems, software, and services."

Offering GPU-as-a-Service

Aziz Aluthman Fakhroo, Group CEO, Ooredoo, said: “Implementing NVIDIA's full-stack platform for accelerated computing and generative AI.. [and] working with NVIDIA, we aim to meet the significantly growing demand for accelerated computing infrastructure to support advanced AI models.”

"Through this collaboration, Ooredoo plans to deploy thousands of NVIDIA Tensor Core GPUs in its AI data centres to support the region, enabling customers to leverage a state-of-the-art AI platform with advanced infrastructure, tools, and software. This will optimise processes and drive operational efficiencies across industries," the company said.

"Customers will benefit from Ooredoo’s GPU-as-a-Service, which offers on-demand access to some of the most advanced AI and machine learning tools available - including one of the most transformative technologies available today, generative AI."

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Ooredoo Group’s collaboration with NVIDIA is part of its larger aim to boost AI infrastructure in the MENA region while enabling enhanced security, optimised performance, and customisation to align with local standards.

Ronnie Vasishta, Senior Vice President of Telecom, NVIDIA, said: “As a trusted regional telecommunications provider, Ooredoo Group combines deep enterprise and consumer relationships with the ability to invest in and deploy AI infrastructure and services. By providing NVIDIA’s full-stack AI computing platform to customers, Ooredoo will help make it easier for their customers to deploy generative AI applications and services.”

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Ooredoo Group’s collaboration with NVIDIA is part of its larger aim to boost AI infrastructure in the MENA region while enabling enhanced security, optimised performance, and customisation to align with local standards. As a result, the countries where Ooredoo operates can establish local clouds, facilitating the development of local AI ecosystems and applications and reinforcing data security measures.

Offering GPU-as-infrastructure

Through the latest deal, Ooredoo will be able to "offer GPU-as-infrastructure, giving its customers the flexibility to integrate accelerated computing with their own cloud solutions or directly host them on premises. This ensures customers have the most efficient and tailored AI processing capabilities at their disposal.

"The initiative is expected to drive economic growth, job creation, and technological innovation across the region by empowering customers with a state-of-the-art AI cloud platform. Ooredoo will work on the implementation in close coordination with the stakeholders in each country to ensure alignment with local requirements and to maximise the benefits of its AI initiatives to advance sovereign AI goals."

Reuters reported earlier in the day that the undisclosed-sum deal was signed on the sidelines of the TM Forum in Copenhagen on June 19 and that Ooredoo would not disclose exactly what type of artificial intelligence from technology Nvidia will be installing in at its data centres in the five Middle Eastern countries, saying that it depends on availability and customer demand.