Bitcoin mining in the desert: Abu Dhabi is set for large-scale Marathon Digital facility

Quick Take

  • Abu Dhabi is getting a giant bitcoin mining complex being developed by Marathon Digital and Zero Two. 
  • The companies developed special technology that will keep the mining rigs cool in the hot desert climate. 

Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, will host the first large-scale bitcoin mining operations in the Middle East with a complex being developed by a joint venture between Marathon Digital Holdings and Zero Two.

Dubbed Abu Dhabi Global Markets JV Entity, the venture will develop and operate two digital asset mining sites that will have a combined capacity of 250 megawatts, the companies said in a statement

A larger 200-megawatt site will be located in the Masdar City sustainability hub, and a smaller 50-megawatt facility will be placed in the port zone of Mina Zayed.  

Marathon and Zero Two said they intend to leverage excess energy in Abu Dhabi and will offset any non-sustainably produced electricity with clean energy certificates. 

Masdar City, Abu DhabiA rendering of the Masdar City sustainability hub in Abu Dhabi.

Bitcoin mining in Abu Dhabi's desert climate

Zero Two will have 80% of the venture, and Marathon will hold the remainder. Capital contributions in the 2023 development period are expected to reach $406 million. Assets mined will be distributed twice a month in accordance with equity ownership. 

Until now, the hot desert climate has made bitcoin mining unfeasible, but the companies developed technology to cool the equipment. Both sites should begin operating before the end of the year, with a combined hashrate of 7 EH/s.

"For this project, our team successfully co-developed and implemented a full immersion solution, as well as developed proprietary mining software from the ground up to provide flexibility, resilience, and optimization," Marathon Chairman and CEO Fred Thiel said in the statement. 

The UAE has seen a flurry of recent crypto-related activity, especially as regulatory uncertainty in the U.S. has pushed some to look for more favorable jurisdictions. Coinbase’s executive team, including CEO Brian Armstrong, was in the country this week to meet with policymakers in the region. 

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