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Oman unveils $350M block reward mining hub as it advances digitization drive

Oman has announced the launch of a new block reward mining facility to improve its digital economy.

The 135 million rials ($350 million) block reward mining facility was launched in Oman’s Salalah Free Zone, a growing economic hub in the Middle Eastern country with its own tax regime. The Oman Daily Observer reports that indigenous firm Exahertz will operate the mining hub in conjunction with Dubai-based Moonwalk Systems.

While the report did not disclose the nature of digital assets to be mined in the facility, pundits predict that the facility will be focused on mining BTC. The facility will begin a pilot with 2,000 GPUs from Bitmain Technologies, relying on 11 megawatts of electricity.

CEO of Moonwalk Systems Sam Ferdows disclosed that the purpose of the pilot is to finetune the data center functionalities of the hub ahead of a full-scale rollout. Described as a “major milestone,” Omani authorities say there are ambitious plans to increase the number of GPUs in the center by 15,000 before the end of October.

Apart from block reward mining, the hub will serve as a data hosting and processing venture, which authorities claim will “help accelerate the growth of our digital economy and create new opportunities for Omanis.”

Ferdows stated that the new block reward mining facility will focus on hiring local talent over expatriates to run the hub’s operations. He added that Exahertz will take the lead in training locals on the basics of blockchain technology via internships. At the same time, operations will rely on Omani infrastructure to prevent a capital flight.

Oman had previously unfurled a block reward mining operation in November 2022 dubbed “Al-Madina Al-Khadraa” with a $389 million valuation.

With two mining hubs under its belt, the government is continuing its drive to embrace blockchain technology to catch up with other Gulf nations. The country is keen on launching a new legal regime for regulating digital currencies, launching a consultation paper for industry players to air their views on regulatory proposals.

Mining firms are making a hard pivot

Oman’s decision to back digital currency operations comes when global players diversify their operations in the face of unfavorable macroeconomic headwinds.

In July, leading BTC miner Hive Digital (TSXV: HIVE | OTCQX: HVBTF | FSE: HBFannounced it’s removing “blockchain” from its name to reflect its ambitions to explore new frontiers like artificial intelligence (AI) and cloud hosting.

“As we expand our GPU Cloud business, we require a strategy that better reflects both sides of our business,” said CEO Aydin Kilic at the time. “We build infrastructure for emerging digital tech, not just blockchain, and we intend to utilize our large fleet of GPUs to grow a cloud hosting business.”

Riot Blockchain (NASDAQ: RIOT) also changed its name to Riot Platform to diversify its operations away from blockchain technology.

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