In this exclusive interview for AIBC, Irina Heaver sits down with Bijan Alizadeh Fard, partner at Cypher Capital and Co-Founder Of Phoenix Technologies, to talk about the construction of the largest crypto mining site to open in the UAE and their plans for a 10,000 square foot blockchain hub in Dubai. Supported by the Abu Dhabi government, they’re making waves for their use of clean energy
Cypher Capital: What to look forward to
Tell us a bit more about your plans, I hear you have some exciting things coming up.
Phoenix Technologies started Bitcoin mining in Dubai back in 2015. Later on we moved to Canada, Russia, and the US, and we’re very happy to be back in the UAE, at the biggest mining site in the world, which is 650 megawatts. As part of the first phase we purchased $650 million of equipment from Bitmain, and are deploying it this year. So this is a $2 billion project, which as a single site, is the biggest in the world.
Expansion plans are in motion, but as of now we are trying to finish the first phase, it’s quite an ambitious task. We are using the latest technology from Bitmain and working closely with their engineers to develop this project together over the next 6 months.
Dubai has quite a harsh and challenging climate. How are you managing the cooling and ventilation?
We are using a new water cooling system from Bitmain. We use water evaporative chillers to cool the containers. We have tested this system at 60 degrees and it works perfectly. It’s much more efficient than the traditional immersion cooling, which is costly and needs a lot of infrastructure.
In a sense it’s going to be a very unique project, it’s the first time that something this size is being deployed. This will put the Middle East on the map as a dominant location for bitcoin mining.
Building such a large project in the Middle East requires a lot of governmental support. What sort of support are you getting? How did you get the government on board?
For years the UAE government has been working with blockchain and cryptocurrencies – and it’s quickly become a blockchain hub. A lot of people are coming here to carry out their projects. So in regards to this project the government has given us a lot of support, such as a subsidized electricity rate for example. In the future we want to sell this hash rate or give this hash rate back to the community, to the people in the Middle East – so the plan will be to build a blockchain city.
Cypher Capital: New horizons for the Middle East
I also hear that you’re going to be using the resources that you accumulated through mining for your new venture – Cypher Capital.
We initially created a company called Phoenix VC, which we started with a $10 million capital pool. It was successful, so we decided to go a step further and create Cypher Capital.
It’s going to be a hundred million dollar fund that is going to be invested in blockchain projects, supporting this project on a long-term basis. Apart from that we are building a 10,000 square foot blockchain hub in Jumeirah Beach Residence Dubai. The idea is for people who have great ideas to come and get support from those in the know. To be honest, investment is only 50% of it – the other half is giving back to the community. The only way to grow this business is to educate the community.
Tell me about Dubai becoming a crypto hub for the Middle East? What do you see happening on the ground?
Regulation is changing very fast. What we have seen is the MCC issuing licences that support crypto trading or crypto custodies. This is the start of a movement. We’re not there yet though – we still have some way to go before we fully incorporate this into the ecosystem.
Persuading giants like Binance to come into the city and set up their headquarters here is a sign that the government is very proactive when it comes to moving towards this phase. We also don’t have tax in the UAE, which is a massive opportunity for blockchain projects. It’s also one of the most beautiful cities in the world and a very good place to live and work. So I really think that in the next few years Dubai will become a central hub. I believe we will surpass Miami as the leading crypto hub in the world.
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