Princess Reema: Investment will take Saudi eSports to next level

Saudi Princess Reema bint Bandar Al-Saud speaks during the FII conference in Riyadh on Wednesday. (AFP)
Updated 25 October 2018

Princess Reema: Investment will take Saudi eSports to next level

  • Given Saudi Arabia’s large youth population, itis believed that pumping more money into this sector could give a boost to both young people and the national economy
  • An eSports federation — known formally as the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports — was launched last year

RIYADH: Greater investment in eSports would boost the Saudi economy and help young gamers better compete in the global — if virtual — arena, one of the Kingdom’s top sporting officials has said. 

Princess Reema bint Bandar, of the General Sport Authority, told the Future Investment Initiative that the Saudi gaming sector is “ripe for investment” — and that extra funds could help take it to the next level.

An eSports federation — known formally as the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports — was launched last year.

Given Saudi Arabia’s large youth population, pumping more money into this sector — by, for instance, opening a gaming college or running gaming tournaments — could give a boost to both young people and the national economy, Princess Reema said.

“We truly believe that this is a sector that we can develop and grow, and is ripe for investment,” she said. 

Princess Reema pointed to South Korea as a country with a healthy eSport industry. 

“In South Korea, the gaming industry is probably around a $4 billion addition to the GDP … imagine if we were able
to do that here in Saudi Arabia?” she said.

“What does that look like? That looks like a gaming college or a university, that looks like gaming-training programs; investments in infrastructure and buildings that allow for these young people to not only participate in the game, but also educate others to be physically active.”

The official acknowledged that some people would need to be convinced that video gaming was actually a sport — adding that she encourages eSports to be recognized by the Olympics. 

But Princess Reema said that another factor was that young people could be encouraged to do more physical activity — because it can help them “up their gaming level” in the virtual field. 

In August, Saudi teenager Mosaad Aldossary picked up a $250,000 prize when he won the global FIFA eWorld Cup Grand Final.

More than 20 million gamers vied for a spot in the annual eWorld Cup, with just 32 making it to the finals. Competitors play the FIFA 18 football video game.


Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

Updated 20 min 49 sec ago

Pentagon chief visits Saudi Arabia as tensions simmer with Iran

  • The visit comes days after Pentagon said it was bolstering its forces in the Kingdom amid tensions with Iran
  • In October, the Pentagon said it was deploying new US troops to Saudi Arabia following attacks on Saudi oil plants

RIYADH: US Defense Secretary Mark Esper arrived in Saudi Arabia on Monday, with tensions simmering between the United States and Iran, and Russia seeking to increase its regional influence.
Al-Ekhbariyah television gave no details on the previously unannounced visit, which comes after Esper visited Afghanistan.
Esper is likely to meet King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman on his first trip to the key Middle East ally since he took office this summer, a visit intended partly to reassure Riyadh over bilateral ties.

US-Iran tensions have risen to new highs since May 2018, when the Trump administration withdrew from a 2015 international nuclear accord with Tehran that put limits on its nuclear program in exchange for the easing of sanctions.
The United States has deployed military forces to Saudi Arabia to bolster the Kingdom’s defenses after an attack on oil sites last month.
The Sept. 14 attack knocked out two major processing facilities of state oil giant Aramco in Khurais and Abqaiq, roughly halving Saudi Arabia’s oil production.
Washington condemned the attacks as a “act of war” but neither the Saudis nor the United States have overtly retaliated.

Esper said that two fighter squadrons and additional missile defense batteries were being sent to Saudi Arabia, bringing to about 3,000 the total number of troops deployed there since last month.
Despite the additional troops, there are questions about the US commitment to allies in the region after Trump announced a sudden withdrawal from northeastern Syria, opening the door for Russia to increase its influence in the Middle East.
A senior US defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the United States still wanted to be seen as the partner of choice in the region and Russia was not as dependable, whether it be the level of training or the military equipment it can provide.
President Vladimir Putin signalled Moscow’s growing Middle East clout last week on his first visit to Saudi Arabia in over a decade, buoyed by Russian military gains in Syria, strong ties with Riyadh’s regional rivals and energy cooperation.
(With Reuters and AFP)