Saudi Arabia wants to become the esports capital of the world

GEDDA: The games and esports industry is growing rapidly in Saudi Arabia and the GCC, with major investments announced to support national game developers and world-class competitions taking place in the region.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman recently announced the Kingdom’s ambition to see 30 competitive games developed by the Kingdom’s companies by 2030, as part of the country’s national gaming and esports strategy.

Last week, Savvy Games Group, a company owned by the Public Investment Fund of Saudi Arabia, unveiled investments worth 142 billion Saudi riyals (1 Saudi riyal = 0.27 euros) to transform the kingdom into a global hub. with world-class gaming companies.

The investments will include 70 billion riyals to acquire several minority stakes in companies supporting Savvy’s game development program and 50 billion riyals to acquire a major game publisher to become a strategic development partner.

An additional 20 billion riyals will be invested in industrial partners and 2 billion riyals will be allocated to industry pioneers to develop early-stage gaming and eSports businesses.

“Savvy Games Group is part of our ambitious strategy to make Saudi Arabia the definitive global hub for the games and esports industry by 2030,” the crown prince said last week, according to the agency’s report. of the Saudi press.

Speaking at the Next World Forum in early September, Prince Faisal bin Bandar, president of the Saudi Esports Federation, mentioned the rise of the sports industry over the past five years, adding: “One of my favorite things about the game is that you first introduce yourself to someone using their play skills and not based on their history, religion, skin color, background, or gender.

Prince Faisal bin Bandar, president of the Saudi e-sports federation (Photo, Arab News).

The prince said: “This young community and people are really trying to take their place on the world stage. The ultimate goal is for Saudi Arabia to naturally evolve on the global path of games and esports. “

Through this initiative, the government hopes to create 39,000 jobs, introduce 250 game developers and foster a thriving in-house talent pool for esports, which will bring the sector’s contribution to the Kingdom’s economy to 50 billion riyals by 2030. .

Dozens of national start-ups, as well as multinational developers, will benefit enormously from this wave of new investments.

Abderrahmane al-Soulaimani, an artificial intelligence engineer and game designer who spent nine years in Japan before returning to the Kingdom in 2020, is one of them.

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Saudi e-Leaguers celebrate victory (Photo, Arab News).

Throughout his career, Al-Soulaimani has witnessed the amazing growth of the world-famous Japanese gaming community. Seeing the same potential in his home country, he went back there to create his own studio.

Earlier this year, Al-Soulaimani launched AlBuraq Wings, a game studio that embraces young gamers eager to learn about design and programming.

“I wanted to help bring them together under one roof and I created the studio with the aim of creating games not only made by the Saudis for the Saudis, but also to bring the world to the world. The immense talent of our developers”, Al – Soulaimani said Arab news.

Whether it’s designers, developers, artists, voiceovers or whatever, game development isn’t a one-man thing. It is a community of talents who come together to try out new technological tools and come up with innovative game ideas.

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Participants compete at Gamers8 in Riyadh (Photo, Arab News).

AlBuraq Wings recently won third place at Gamers8 XR Gameathon, a time-limited accelerated innovation event where gaming enthusiasts come together to develop a game prototype from scratch in a week.

“These tournaments are what drives many Saudis to come out and put their skills in the spotlight. I dare say that the capabilities of many Saudis exceed those of the Japanese, “Al-Soulaimani said.

He added: “Game events not only attract players, they also attract three unique and important segments of the gaming community: programmers, designers and artists. If you take all three, you have a game. We’ve come full circle.”

Saudi Arabia is already rapidly emerging as a major gaming hub, with local competitors achieving world-class results in global esports tournaments.

In 2018, Mosaad al-Dossary, known online as “Msdossary”, became the first Saudi citizen to win the FIFA Electronic Gaming World Cup, an event that over 20 million players attempted to win to qualify.

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Mosaad al-Dossary, the first Saudi national team to win the FIFA Electronic Gaming World Cup (Photo, Arab News).

A year later, Saudi gamers were thrilled when the kingdom was chosen to host the region’s largest gaming tournament to date, PlayerUnknown’s Battlegrounds (PUBG) Mobile Star.

The size of the global esports market was valued at $ 1.22 billion in 2021 and is expected to reach $ 1.44 billion in 2022. Fortune Business Insights predicts the market will reach $ 5.48 billion in 2029.

According to a report by the Boston Consulting Group earlier this year, Saudi Arabia now has 23.5 million players, or about 67% of the Kingdom’s predominantly young population.

About 90% of these players participate in esports as amateurs or semi-professionals, while about 100 Saudi players are making esports a full-time career, according to the report.

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Saudi Arabia has around 23.5 million players, or 67% of the Kingdom’s young population (Photo, Arab News).

“When looking at Arab countries, Saudi Arabia is the number one destination for games,” he said. Arab newsa Saudi player and content creator known as “PikaLoli”.

Like many Saudis, she has been playing from an early age and recently decided to make her career out of it. You have discovered a platform where a growing community of gamers and developers can share ideas and feedback.

“I play all kinds of games and have my opinion on my social media pages,” revealed PikaLoli. “The interaction and involvement you find, even among the youngest, is remarkable.”

“We have been waiting for this moment for a long time and the community of thousands of people has been helping each other for years. We have a common platform to communicate, share ideas, edit videos, play developer games and provide feedback and more, ”she explained.

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Khalid Aloufi is among the best players in the Kingdom (Photos, Arab News).

Walid Abou Alkhayr, a newly graduated game designer, found his calling shortly after graduating from college and enrolling in Game Development Hima’s “intensive training”, which focuses on game development by mastering skills and doing an internship at a international gaming company before finding work at another.

He relied on Arab news that he liked computer training programs and esports and game development courses more, reinforcing the idea of ​​becoming a game developer.

“I started playing with the Sony PlayStation 1 and haven’t stopped since. The love of games is what prompted me to choose this profession, but I didn’t see enough support until recently when the industry grew at an unprecedented pace; Then I realized that was what I wanted to do, “she said.

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Abou Alkhayr, also a member of AlBuraq Wings, pointed out that the rise of esports and game development is not just a fad, but something that has been going on for years.

“There are numerous initiatives and programs launched by entities that teach game programming and development and, even more, resources, which offer opportunities and strengthen the technical competitiveness of the community. The greater the participation of talents, the more the community will develop and contribute to the realization of the vision proposed to us, ”she advised.

For Al-Soulaimani, harnessing that raw energy, enthusiasm and talent is exactly what it takes to put Saudi Arabia on the global playing map.

“The Kingdom feeds local talent; is ready to create a dynamic environment for e-sports, as young people have long done with their love and passion for video games, “she said.

“As game developers have found our platforms, we are sharing our games and getting support, but the recent announcement will give more opportunities to the younger generation who want to immerse themselves in this fun world,” said Al-Soulaimani.

This text is the translation of an article published on Arabnews.com

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