Zoho To Invest Rs. 1,100 Crore In Saudi Arabia To Develop Its Digital Infrastructure

For decades, foreign companies have been investing money in India, but things might be slowly moving in the other direction.

Zoho has said it’s investing Rs. 1,100 crore in Saudi Arabia to develop its digital infrastructure. Zoho has also opened two data centers in the country in Jeddah and Riyadh. The firm has also entered into strategic partnerships with local government entities contributing to the Saudi Vision 2030.

“Zoho Corporation has a strong R&D foundation, as we have invested in building our full technology stack, including the data centres that are run using our proprietary patented technology,” Zoho founder and CEO Sridhar Vembu said. Vembu was in Saudi Arabia for the announcement, and as with his other recent foreign engagements, met with Saudi officials wearing his traditional veshti.

Zoho will also allocate Rs. 221 crore for SMEs in Saudi Arabia through which the companies will be able to utilise the amount in wallet credits yearly for the next 10 years to access to any of its 55+ cloud-based applications under the Zoho brand and for training. “These partnerships will help ease the adoption of digital technologies for SMEs in Saudi Arabia and promote digital upskilling amongst local businesses,” the company said. Zoho has also recruited 25 employees in Saudi Arabia, and is actively recruiting more.

Zoho already has a large international presence — the company has 18 datacenters around the world. This geographical spread is perhaps motivated by governments mandating that data from their countries stay within their borders. Zoho said that they would be migrating its Saudi customers’ data to its Saudi datacenters in the coming quarters, and would be compliant with Saudi regulations. “This is a part of our transnational localism philosophy,” Vembu said.

Zoho has been expanding its footprint in some unusual locations. Last month, Vembu had opened a Zoho office in Mexico. In India, Zoho has been aggressively expanding into Tier 2 and Tier 3 towns, having recently built a campus in Tirunelveli in Tamil Nadu. The company plans to open 100 rural offices in the coming years.

These are all unusual moves, but Zoho has always done things a little differently. The company has never raised external capital, and has been bootstrapped since its inception. Its founder, meanwhile, works from a remote village in Tamil Nadu. But Aall this seems to be working — Zoho had reported a profit of Rs. 2,826 crore in FY23, which was the second-highest profit ever recorded by an internet firm in India. And with Zoho now expanding into areas like Saudi Arabia and Mexico, it will perhaps be a trailblazer in helping encourage Indian internet firms to be finally pulling their weight in foreign lands.