Saudi gamers seeking global recognition

The Saudi gaming community has expanded in the last couple of years. The community is looking to gain recognition internationally and enrich the field of electronic sports. (Photo/Supplied)
Updated 21 November 2019

Saudi gamers seeking global recognition

JEDDAH: The gaming community in the Kingdom is looking to gain recognition internationally and enrich the field of electronic sports (esports), which has only recently emerged in the country since the social and economic changes under the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan. 

“Gaming championships are just as important as any sports championships. Worldwide, it’s called electronic sports. In the Kingdom, they only call it video gaming,” 38-year-old Saudi insurance claims manager and gaming enthusiast Wajdi Kamal told Arab News.

He said Turki Al Sheikh, president of the General Entertainment Authority, recognized the global popularity of esports when he was president of the General Sports Authority. 

“There are Olympic teams in this field and big international championships taking place in this type of sport,” said Kamal.

“So he (Al Sheikh) thought, ‘why not create a team for this?’ Now Saudi Arabia is among the list of best gamers globally within just a few months.”

Kamal said Saudi gamers are reaching out to gaming communities worldwide. “We’ve learned from them, and some of us have surpassed the expectations and experiences of some gaming idols,” he added.

“These Saudi gamers watched them, followed them and learned everything from them, and in some matches they beat them, their teachers.”

The Saudi gaming community has expanded in the last couple of years, said Kamal, adding: “There are talents and skills we never knew existed.”

25-year-old Saudi digital artist Rosanne Basaad, who would like to take up a career in the gaming industry, told Arab News: “Video games have made me widely creative, and since I got into it I started working on concept art, character designs and creating my own adventures and stories. One of my goals is to share such skills and creations to work with the gaming industry.”

Basaad said: “I started playing video games from a young age when my mom introduced me to a game called ‘Crash Bandicoot’.”

She added: “I’ve always been extremely fascinated by how a world can be displayed on such a small device. I’d consider this one of my greatest hobbies, and would like it to grow into something more, and work with such a community.”

25-year-old Saudi computer engineering student Abdul Aziz Wahbi told Arab News: “My older brothers bought a SNES (Super Nintendo Entertainment System) when I was 4 years old, and ever since I’ve been interested in gaming as a hobby.”

He said: “I’ve been buying almost every console released by Sony, Nintendo and Microsoft. I find gaming to be incredibly competitive and extremely fun, especially if I’m competing against my friends.”

Wahbi has made plans to start a YouTube channel about gaming, combined with his major. “This channel will target the Saudi gaming audience and introduce them to videos about how to make their gaming life easier by making their own accessories. My channel will also be including videos that target comic book fans, movie fans and cosplayers,” he added.


Fifth Jeddah International Book Fair opened by Makkah governor

Updated 12 December 2019

Fifth Jeddah International Book Fair opened by Makkah governor

JEDDAH: Prince Khalid Al-Faisal, the governor of Makkah, officially opened the fifth edition of the Jeddah International Book Fair on Wednesday.

The prince toured the event, at which 400 publishing houses from 40 countries are taking part, and honored three renowned figures from the local literature and media scenes: Dr. Hashem Abdo Hashem, the former editor in chief of Okaz newspaper; writer Abdel Fattah Abu Madian; and writer Meshaal bin Muhammad Al-Sudairy.

Prince Mishaal bin Majed, the governor of Jeddah and chairman of the exhibition’s Higher Committee, thanked Price Khalid for his support of the fair since it was founded. He also expressed his gratitude to King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman for their great support.

He added that the success of the event is the result of the hard work of a number of organizations. In particular, he wished the Ministry of Culture continued success in organizing the fair as part of its efforts to develop culture in the Kingdom as one of the pillars of Saudi Vision 2030.

Other VIP guests and dignitaries at the inauguration of the fair included Prince Badr bin Sultan, the deputy governor of Makkah; Prince Saud bin Abdullah, adviser to the governor of Makkah; and Prince Khalid bin Mishaal, deputy governor of Jeddah.

The book fair continues at Land of Events in South Abhur until Dec. 21.