Alphabet Inc. is reportedly negotiating a major deal with Saudi Arabia. The tech giant recently cracked down on RT in the name of democracy, but seems to be OK with Riyadh’s systematic human rights violations, at home and abroad.
Senior executives of Alphabet, which owns Google, have reportedly been negotiating “for months” with representatives of the Saudi state oil giant Aramco, as well as Saudi government officials, including Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports. The potential deal envisages Alphabet building major data centers in the Kingdom.
Details of the project remain scarce, including the date when the agreement will be finalized, the purpose of the tech hubs and who would control them. Sources familiar with the developments told the WSJ, however, that the size of the potential joint venture could be big enough to list on Saudi Arabia’s stock exchange.
Google is behind both Amazon.com Inc. and Microsoft Corp. in the business of renting computing power and online storage. The deal might secure a foothold in Saudi Arabia, which could be crucial for outflanking their rivals and attracting local wealthy oil-industry customers.
Amazon, meanwhile, is also seeking to carve out a space in the potentially lucrative market. The company is reported to be close to finalizing a $1 billion deal, which also involves building three data centers in Saudi Arabia.
Alphabet recently ‘championed democracy’ with a crackdown on RT. Citing “RT’s relationship with the Russian Government,” Google said it’s “working on disclosures to provide similar transparency on YouTube,” apparently to better inform its customers about “malicious Russian propaganda.”
In November, Eric Schmidt, the Executive Chairman of Alphabet, said the company is working on de-ranking RT and Sputnik to make their articles less prominent on Google’s news delivery services. The move is also in the name of ‘democracy.’