SALALAH: Oman's Ministry of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology (MTCIT) has welcomed a new entrant to the country's thriving data hosting and processing sector. The Afaaq for Advanced Technologies data hosting and cryptocurrency mining center was inaugurated in the Salalah Free Zone, with Eng Said Hamoud al Maawali, Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, in attendance.

The center, set up by Exahertz International, is valued at over RO 135 million (around $370 million) and is the second major data hosting and processing venture that the Ministry has attracted in recent months. The first, Al-Madina Al-Khadraa, was announced in November 2022 and is valued at RO 150 million.

The combined investment of RO 285 million in these two data centers is a significant boost for Oman's digital economy. The centers will create hundreds of jobs for Omanis and help to position the country as a leading destination for data hosting and processing in the region.

In a speech at the inauguration ceremony, Eng Al Maawali said that the new data centers are a "major milestone" in Oman's digital transformation journey. He added that the centers will "help to accelerate the growth of our digital economy and create new opportunities for Omanis."

The Minister also praised the efforts of Afaaq for Advanced Technologies in setting up the new data centers. He said that the company is "a leading player in the data hosting and processing sector, and we are confident that they will be a valuable asset to Oman's digital economy."

According to Sam Ferdos, CEO of Moonwalk Systems and Strategic Partner of Exahertz International, a wider network of blockchain-based data centres in planned in the Sultanate of Oman, starting with a pilot in Salalah.

Speaking to the Observer, Ferdos said the pilot is already online with 11 megawatts of power and over 2,000 machines. By October, capacity will be ramped up to have up to 15,000 machines online, with development fast-tracked to cover three locations in Salalah and one in Al Jabal Al Akhdar in Al Dakhiliyah Governorate.

The pilot phase was designed to test the environment and see what modifications needed to be made to the data centers to enhance performance and create a more sustainable future, the CEO noted.

According to the executive, the added value of the project for Oman is that it will bring the knowledge and know-how of blockchain technology to the country. Exahertz is looking to pass this on to the locals by training them in data center operations and blockchain technology. The project will also use local infrastructure, from electrical infrastructure to civil, to boost the economy.

When asked about training, Ferdos says that they are more focused on hiring locals for their projects. They are also bringing in youths through internship programs to transfer knowledge.

Ferdos says that they are using the latest cutting-edge technology available today from a manufacturer in China called Bitmain Technologies. Bitmain is the world leader in high-performance computer machines. They are specifically using hydro technology, which is a water cooling solution that cools the computers to create a very efficient process. This allows them to have a top-notch, high-performing, and high-efficient data center in Oman.

Ferdos is excited about the project and the potential it has to bring economic growth and development to Oman. He believes that blockchain technology is the future, and he is proud to be a part of bringing it to Oman.

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