Japan sheds light on opportunities for Saudi gaming industry

Saudi entrepreneurs were introduced on Tuesday to the Japanese side of the gaming business at a seminar in Jeddah. (Supplied)
Updated 04 December 2019

Japan sheds light on opportunities for Saudi gaming industry

  • The development and current status of the industry in Japan and worldwide was discussed at the meeting

JEDDAH: Entrepreneurs and professionals in Saudi Arabia’s gaming sector were introduced on Tuesday to the Japanese side of the business during a special seminar staged in the Kingdom.

The Jeddah Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCI) hosted the event titled “Game Development and Business Opportunities in Japan,” which was presented by Prof. Koji Mikami, from Tokyo University of Technology’s school of
media science.

The professor discussed the development and current status of the industry in Japan and worldwide, and also spoke about game education in his country.

The seminar began with an opening speech by JCCI Assistant Secretary-General Mazin Kutbi followed by an address from
Japan’s consul general in Jeddah, Masayuki Miyamoto.

“I think the two countries (Japan and Saudi Arabia) share the same Eastern values,” said Miyamoto. “This is a good opportunity to exchange views and engage in fruitful discussions.”

During the conference, Mikami highlighted similarities between the gaming culture in Japan and Saudi Arabia, most notably the public willingness and desire to spend on entertainment.

The professor noted that a recent Newzoo report had placed Japan third in the world, after China and the US, for game consumer revenues in 2019. However, he said Japan’s population was only one-fifth of China’s and one-third of America’s, while its revenues of $18.6 billion were 52 percent of those of China and the US (around $35.5 billion).

The figures were based on consumer spending in each country and excluded hardware sales, tax and business-to-business services, etc.

According to Mikami, Saudi Arabia’s gaming market has huge potential to become a good source of revenue.

“Saudi Arabia’s market is one of the rapidly growing markets in the region and is a high-density market for a small population,” he added. “I think Saudi Arabia has the same case as Japan, people pay a lot to play games.”

He advised academics to collaborate with the industry and step up research and development to help define and understand the domestic market and grow it in the right way. “Research doesn’t make an immediate impact on the market, but it contributes to building its future.”

He also suggested that academics should not only follow the current demands of the market but also create its future needs. 

“Students can easily learn about the market’s current needs online. Professors need to focus on teaching them how to impact the future and create their original market.”

Many gaming enthusiasts were among the audience, including business owners, young entrepreneurs and market professionals.

One delegate, Mashael Abul-Naja, an independent game developer, said the seminar, the first of its kind to be held in Jeddah, had been “very informative.”

She told Arab News: “I have newly joined the market and have begun working on my own games. I am here to gain ideas on how to start and what to do, and what kind of business model I should follow.”

Abul-Naja added that while the Kingdom had a lot of talent in the field of gaming development, it was not given enough exposure to the market and individuals needed support and real opportunities.

Freelance business developer and award-winning apps designer, Eman Nahas, said the event had provided a “golden opportunity” to meet with professionals and take her business to another level.

“I realigned many new ideas that can help me develop my pending game plans. I have been working on a virtual-reality game for the past year, but I needed a little help with a few things, and I think I found what I needed today,” she told Arab News.


Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

Updated 11 min 37 sec ago

Snap happy: Every face tells a story for Saudi photographer

  • “There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” says Abdullah Al-Joghiman

DHAHRAN: Saudi portrait photographer Abdullah Al-Joghiman has a message for everybody: You are beautiful just the way you are.

If you don’t believe him, let him take your picture.

“Even if you’re not photogenic, or think you look bad in pictures, I can always turn your frown upside down,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is a full-time financial analyst for the Saudi Electricity Co., but allows plenty of time for his work as a freelance portrait and event photographer on the side.

“I started off doing landscape photography, but I love portrait photography more. Landscape photographers have to travel a lot, and I wasn’t able to commit to that lifestyle for many reasons. But since I was a child I’ve always loved taking pictures of people. There is something majestic about people’s faces, their expressions,” he told Arab News.

The 34-year-old was born in Al-Hofuf and now lives in Dammam, but his passion for photography has taken him all over the Kingdom and to other areas of the world.

Al-Joghiman at the 2018 Middle East Film and Comic Con in Dubai. (Supplied)

Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

“It was amazing, I met people from around 20 countries who came to take part,” he said. “It was a great experience.”

Completely self-taught, Al-Joghiman caught the photography bug at college and has been training himself ever since. “I’ve been dabbling in photography since high school, but I started taking it more seriously in college. I’ve been shooting professionally since 2012 or 2013,” he said.

Al-Joghiman started off humbly, with a camera-centric smartphone, but has since expanded his collection significantly, and now shoots with a variety of high-tech cameras from Sony. Now he is attracting interest from both local and international sponsors, especially in the gaming and cosplay areas.

“Cosplayers are kind of difficult to shoot because they can be perfectionists, but I love seeing the joy on their faces when they see the final pictures. That makes it worthwhile,” he said.

Al-Joghiman is happy that social restrictions on photography in Saudi Arabia are easing, allowing him to find more opportunities to do the work he loves.

“It’s difficult to take pictures of people here, especially strangers, but I can’t really blame them, considering that they are not really used to that in our culture. But things are changing and it’s much easier to be a photographer in Saudi Arabia now,” he said.

HIGHLIGHT

Abdullah Al-Joghiman has been asked to shoot for local events such as Gamers’ Con and internationally at conventions in Kuwait, Singapore and the UAE. In 2019, he was commissioned to photograph the World Cosplay Summit in Japan, traveling with a Saudi team competing at the event for the first time.

He is grateful for the Ministry of Culture’s efforts to revive the Kingdom’s art scene, and has long hoped that photography will become more regulated in the country.

“The market for photography and videography really needs to be regulated. It’s hard enough putting a price on one’s work without scoping out the competition and finding that someone else is charging thousands for just a headshot when I’m doing shoots for two or three hundred,” he said.

“I love my work, and I’d love to be able to do it for free, but at the end of the day I still need to eat,” he said.

Al-Joghiman doesn’t want to limit anyone else’s opportunities but simply wants the playing field evened out a little.

“As a photographer, I just want a fair chance for everyone. More importantly, a client should know exactly what they are paying for,” he said.

His advice to young Saudis looking to become photographers is this: “If you pursue photography, don’t worry. Just do what you love, and if people tell you that they don’t look good in pictures, convince them by taking a picture of them.”

AlJoghiman’s work can be found on Instagram and Twitter (@finalecco), and on his website, https://www.eccofantasyph.com