Startup of the Week: Otagu - Taking Saudi video game marketplace to the next level

Updated 22 October 2019

Startup of the Week: Otagu - Taking Saudi video game marketplace to the next level

  • Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 national transformation program includes a target of increasing spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9 percent of total domestic expenditure to 6 percent

JEDDAH: The entertainment industry and the creative economy play key roles in the reforms that aim to transform the Saudi economy and reduce its reliance on oil and gas revenues.
Along with efforts to promote and encourage entrepreneurship, this has created great opportunities in the digital field, and encouraged young Saudis to work to make their ambitious dreams reality.
One such entrepreneur is 27-year-old Ahmed Bakhashwin, the founder of Otagu, an online community for fans of video games, animation, movies and TV shows, a group he feels has been unfairly treated and exploited by retailers. The platform aims to improve the marketplace by providing a space where enthusiasts, merchandisers and retailers can get together and deal directly with each other.
“Otagu is derived from the Japanese word ‘Otaku,’ which means a person who is obsessed with a particular thing; for example, an otaku of Marvel movies,” said Bakhashwin. “Otagu is also an acronym for ‘Online, TV, Animation and Gaming Universe.’”
The idea for Otagu grew from his dissatisfaction with the local video games market.
“The market for second-hand video games was made to trick and exploit customers,” he said. “Shops would buy used games for very low prices from their owners and then sell them at a much higher price.”
Bakhashwin said that he wanted to help consumers get a better deal by giving them more power.
“At first I wanted to take the shops out of the equation and allow people to sell their products directly to those who want them for a price they agree on,” he said. “However, the idea grew further and now we want to target the entertainment industry as a whole.”
One of Otagu’s main aims is to bring better organization to the Kingdom’s entertainment marketplace, including the second-hand video-game market, by providing a platform that connects sellers of gaming, animation, movie and TV merchandise with the collectors, fans and enthusiasts most interested in their wares.
Work began on Otagu a year ago and it is due to launch its website, otagu.com, in two weeks. A mobile app is coming soon, too.
Although Saudi Arabia only embraced and opened up to the global entertainment industry relatively recently, the potential value of the sector and its contribution to the local economy is immense.
“The market that we are targeting is bigger than ever, so it’s the perfect time for us to launch,” said Bakhashwin.
Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 national transformation program includes a target of increasing spending on cultural and entertainment activities inside the Kingdom from the current level of 2.9 percent of total domestic expenditure to 6 percent.
Bakhashwin aims to give fellow entrepreneurs in the Kingdom the chance to participate in this expanding market by helping small businesses grow and open their own online stores.
“Every business owner in any field related to our target audience can have an independent store page on our website,” he said. “We help small business and shops too.”
He added he has lofty ambitions for Otagu, which he believes has great potential to grow and become a major force in the region. He said his team has worked hard to create and develop the best platform to match their plans and ambitions.
“Our biggest challenge has been finding the right investor, so we could move ahead faster with the company’s plans,” he said. “Up until now all the funds have come from me, but with an investor we can move even more quickly to help our company realize the vision that we have for it.”


Saudi’s Qassim prepares over 200 mosques for Friday prayers

Updated 04 June 2020

Saudi’s Qassim prepares over 200 mosques for Friday prayers

  • Volunteers will help worshipers disperse between mosques
  • The first call to prayer will be announced 20 minutes earlier

DUBAI: Islamic authority in Qassim region have approved 205 mosques to perform Friday prayers according to new regulations, state news agency SPA reported.

The first call to prayer will be announced 20 minutes earlier, and khutbas – religious address delivered by the imam – to last at maximum for 15 minutes.

Also, volunteers will help worshipers disperse between mosques.

Mosques across the Kingdom, except for those in Makkah, have opened their doors to worshippers on Sunday, May 31, as coronavirus restrictions ease.

Last week, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Islamic Affairs Sheikh Abdullatif Al-Sheikh called on Muslims to respect ongoing safety measures inside mosques, such as bringing their own prayer mats, wearing masks and washing hands prior to entering the vicinities.

Al-Asheikh said preventative measures will remain in place to ensure a safe return of worshipers to mosques for Friday prayers from May 31 until June 20.