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Microsoft invests US$1.5 billion in UAE’s AI firm G42

Microsoft continues its AI spending spree, this time throwing $1.5 billion at UAE-based AI company G42 for a minority stake.

The deal will see G42, based in Abu Dhabi, run its AI applications and services on Microsoft Azure and partner to sell more of them to global public sector clients and large enterprises. The two firms will also work together to bring ‘advanced AI and digital infrastructure’ to countries in the Middle East, Central Asia, and Africa.

The investment will help bring ‘the latest Microsoft AI technologies and skilling initiatives to the UAE and other countries around the world,’ and as part of the partnership Brad Smith, Vice Chair and President of Microsoft, will join the G42 Board of Directors.

There will also be an investment of $1 billion into a development fund for developers in the for the UAE and broader region, pitched as an upskilling move.

There seems to be a good amount of emphasis placed on security and best practices associated with this AI push – we’re told both companies will comply with US and international trade, security, responsible AI, and business integrity laws and regulations, governed by an Intergovernmental Assurance Agreement (IGAA) between G42 and Microsoft that was apparently developed in consultation with both the UAE and US governments.

“Our two companies will work together not only in the UAE, but to bring AI and digital infrastructure and services to underserved nations,” said Brad Smith, Microsoft Vice Chair and President. “We will combine world-class technology with world-leading standards for safe, trusted, and responsible AI, in close coordination with the governments of both the UAE and the United States.”

H.H. Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of G42 added: “Microsoft’s investment in G42 marks a pivotal moment in our company’s journey of growth and innovation, signifying a strategic alignment of vision and execution between the two organizations. This partnership is a testament to the shared values and aspirations for progress, fostering greater cooperation and synergy globally.”

Microsoft hasn’t been shy about getting its wallet out on the pursuit of various AI interests around the world in recent weeks. Earlier this month it announced it is pumping $2.9 billion into AI and cloud infrastructure in Japan, its single largest investment in its 46-year history in the country.

The deal is supposed fund a bolstering of its hyperscale cloud computing and AI infrastructure in the country, expand its digital skilling programs with the goal of providing AI skills to 3 million people in the region over the next three years, open its first Microsoft Research Asia lab in Japan, and ‘deepen its cybersecurity collaboration’ with the Government.

A couple of days before that a new AI hub in the UK called Microsoft AI London was announced. Microsoft says it plans to ‘make a significant, long-term investment in the region,’ and the new hub will focus on developing language models and their supporting infrastructure, tooling for foundation models, and work with AI teams across the broader Microsoft mothership and partners such as OpenAI.