The Saudi government has recently supported a trend of investing in the gaming business and eSports in general to boost the culture of gaming there. Both Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan and the Chief of the Saudi eSports Federation have spoken out about the country’s expected growth in this market by advancing the diversification plans in accordance with Vision 2030.
Kazem and Khater Abdul, the duo behind the Arabic online casino website www.a7labet.com, closely follow the developments and discuss the growing eSports market in Saudi Arabia in a weekly podcast. According to them, these investments are meant to satisfy the growing cultural and social interest of Saudi Arabia’s gaming population, as well as an economic measure implemented by the government and their return on investment.
Within the next decade, the Saudi eSports market is expected to grow into one of the world’s largest. Here are the factors that will enable this expansion:
Impact on the Economy
The gaming industry in Saudi Arabia is steadily growing. The arabic website The gaming market in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) countries, including both eSports and video games, hit more than $1 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow to $3.14 billion by 2025. And being possibly the largest gaming market, with the United Arab Emirates and Egypt as its closest competitors, Saudi Arabia is becoming the region’s powerhouse.
Investments in the gaming industry of Saudi Arabia have exponentially grown and increased. Those investments are further encouraged by the increasing popularity of gaming in the country and the popularity of eSports in general. With almost half of the Saudi population considering themselves novice or regular gamers, over 20 million gaming enthusiasts exist in the state that claims to regularly occupy the online gaming world.
And while the majority plays eSports as a hobby, there is a growing number of professional players emerging from the shadows as the rise of the online gaming industry continues to grow in Saudi Arabia.
Rise of the Culture of Gaming
In parallel with increased economic diversification, the investments by the states in eSports and gaming, in general, are reflected in the culture. This can be seen by the more frequent participation of Saudi youth in various gaming and eSports events and happenings, either in a casual fashion or in a professional capacity. As popularity also rises in the country, the competition increases. With the success of the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports holding its first gaming and eSports tournaments in 2020, more are set to follow. Other tournaments are also set to debut in the future, with private platforms, such as Saudi-based Kafu Games, acting as future hosts.
As a further way to stimulate the industry, the government of Saudi Arabia has also launched many initiatives supporting programmers and aspiring eSports players. One of these bold initiatives is creating a video game studio and opening an eSports academy which will be part of Neom smart city. Another is the Tuwaiq Academy, which offers courses for newbies that want to learn programming and professionals that want to brush up on their programming skills.
Backed by High-Ranking Figures in the Country
Given its convenient location between the east and west, the chairman of the Saudi eSports Federation’s (SEF) board of directors believes that Saudi Arabia has a huge untapped potential in the eSports market. This is further confirmed by the comments of prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, noting the role that youth can play in the development of eSports in Saudi Arabia. Considering that more than 21 million young people make up the country’s structure, one can see how this market can rapidly grow. The prince’s comments also came during the tour in South Korea, participating in the World eSports Summit held there. During the tour, he touched upon all the developments Saudi Arabia planned on making for the eSports sector, all in an effort to attract and develop future talents and investments.
Cementing a Place in a Global eSports Industry
The increased social and financial investment can propel Saudi Arabia into a fast-growing global industry when it comes to eSports and the gaming community. With strong state support already, gamers are encouraged to get involved in the industry in a number of ways, growing the Saudi youth culture towards this new field of interest.
With the gaming industry likely to enjoy even more growth of support from the government in the years to come, more participation from residents and citizens, and greater interest from private businesses, it’s safe to assume that Saudi Arabia is on the right track to becoming a force in the eSports world.