ATIC to invest up to $7 billion in the UAE

ATIC, otherwise known as Advanced Technologies Investment Company or the senior AMD partner in the Global Foundries venture, is about to invest up to $7 billion in building a Fab the likes the UAE have never seen.

While laying foundations for the expansion of the Dresden Fab 1 (formerly Fabs 36 and 38), Ibrahim Ajami, ATIC CEO, said in an interview Tuesday that the company wishes to build a massive semiconductor fabbing facility in the UAE, reported the WSJ.

This fab will focus on 12-inch wafers producing more than the usual AMD x86 chips and contract manufacturing. ATIC has recently begun funding chip start-ups and developing its own technology based on ARM cores. GloFo, the guys who actually do the fab work, will be put in charge of running the foundry once it's built - which ATIC aims to have done by 2014 and in full production by 2015.

Although Global Foundries bought up Chartered Semi last year, the mother company has no intention of holding up its investment. It has therefore deemed it a priority to establish a chip-fabbing hub in the Arabian Peninsula, capable of competing with the likes of South Korea, China and Taiwan.

In order to accomplish this, ATIC will likely recruit the savvy of the Saxony public officials who help set up the original AMD Dresden fabs.

The more the merrier, we say.

This strategy is the brainchild of an "enlightened absolute monarchy". The chap with the massive harem and unending string of wives and offspring is the head of state that basically owns that black stuff that makes the world go round. The rising oil prices can't have done the Emirates' coffers any harm, but down the line there's only so much oil you can suck out of the ground.

So like all very rich heads-of-state, you diversify your portfolio, and right now the best option seems to be silicon.

However, sound investment abroad also dictates that the money you pour out of your country must somehow come back reinvested as something else, in this case high-technology manufacturing capability... an industry that, in the Middle East at least, has been the exclusive property of Israel.

This should prompt some interesting problems in terms of technology exchange and politics between the Arab world and the West.