Saudi Arabia’s game-obsessed kids turn game developers 

Online gaming has been a big part of many young people’s recent upbringings, and many are looking into becoming developers through self-learning, with some already kick-starting their careers before they’ve turned 20. (Shutterstock)
Online gaming has been a big part of many young people’s recent upbringings, and many are looking into becoming developers through self-learning, with some already kick-starting their careers before they’ve turned 20. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 20 August 2021

Saudi Arabia’s game-obsessed kids turn game developers 

Saudi Arabia’s game-obsessed kids turn game developers 

JEDDAH: Teenagers in Saudi Arabia are turning to game development more than ever before, thanks to the help of online educational videos.

Online gaming has been a big part of many young people’s recent upbringings, and many are looking into becoming developers through self-learning, with some already kick-starting their careers before they’ve turned 20.

Mohammad Murad, a 19-year-old game developer, has launched two games. Despite it being a young industry in Saudi Arabia, he has taken a risk and is looking to better his skills to succeed in the industry long term.

He told Arab News that he is self-taught and takes pride in it. “I learned through YouTube videos and the method of trial and error. I did not attend any classes or register for any courses. I was just interested in game development for almost five years. From what I know, it is easy to do something you love. So, it was easy for me to learn it.”

Sharing that same sentiment, 16-year-old Ahmad Kubbi, a Yemeni national living in Saudi Arabia, said his fascination with games led to curiosity in how they came to be. 

“When I was 13, I started doing my research, and I found some of the answers on YouTube. One thing led to another, and I was finally able to program a game last year.”

Kubbi believes that anyone who likes game development can learn how to do it, telling Arab News that he now solely uploads videos on YouTube that follow the themes of either playing the games or the tips and tricks of developing them. He has more than 4,000 subscribers on YouTube and 110,000 followers on Tik Tok.

“I hope I can inspire people to try this; I also want to help smaller developers to get better and make games that they want to develop,” he added.

One thing that both young developers found difficult in their journey was the lack of information available in Arabic; they first had to learn English to absorb the knowledge on YouTube.

“I couldn’t find any good quality Arabic videos, so at that time, I had to learn some English,” Murad said. “Then I couldn’t find ways to promote my game. I just tried different methods for the promotions; some worked, some didn’t.”

Another hurdle was that he was also still a school student while developing the game. “I had to focus on my studies, and while that happened, I still needed to work on my games and pursue my passion. I needed to find a balance,” he said.

So far in his journey, the two games he takes pride in are “Get Out,” a horror game about escaping from a house, and “Abdoo Lugaymat,” a Saudi culture-related game involving feeding lugaymat — sweet balls of fried dough dipped in syrup that Saudis widely enjoy — to Abdoo, a child who likes the sweets, without destroying them.

“The thing I am most proud of ‘Abdoo Lugaymat’ is it was downloaded 10,00 times in the first week,” Murad said. “I programmed the whole game myself, even the designs and everything, as opposed to ‘Get Out,’ where I was taking help from the internet.”

Kubbi developed the game ‘To The Tea’ which has not been published yet, and adds he will soon be uploading a demo of the game. It follows a simple premise: A sugar cube falls from its box, and the player has to help the cube get to its final destination — the cup of tea.

Murad had trouble publishing his game on Steam. Another issue that he is still struggling with is stereotypes that surround the game development industry about Saudi Arabia. People automatically assume his game is bad, he said. “They won’t even bother to give it a try, this is (an) issue young developers face in Saudi because of the history.”

However, Murad added: “I will do everything for the thing I love, and I love game development.”

Kubbi said that there might be a lot of challenges ahead, “but that should not stop anyone from achieving what they want. With training and practice, the game development scene in Saudi Arabia will improve, and I hope to have a hand in this.”


UAE next stop in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official tour of GCC states

UAE next stop in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official tour of GCC states
Updated 17 sec ago

UAE next stop in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official tour of GCC states

UAE next stop in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s official tour of GCC states
  • Saudi crown prince’s official tour of the GCC states comes from an earlier royal directive by King Salman

RIYADH: The UAE is next in Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s itinerary of his official visit of GCC neighbors, which kicked off Monday with a meeting with Oman’s Sultan Haitham bin Tariq.

Saudi Arabian companies and their Omani counterparts, which are fully-owned by the sultanate’s Investment Authority, signed 13 agreements reportedly worth more than $10 billion and spread across a number of sectors.

The crown prince was bestowed an award, the Oman Civil Order of the first degree – one of the highest Omani honors – by Sultan Haitham during their official talks at Al-Alam Palace in Muscat. The distinction is awarded to kings, heads of state, crown princes and heads of government whose countries have distinguished relations with Oman.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is one of the highest Omani honors during official talks with Sultan Haitham at Al-Alam Palace in Muscat. (Twitter: @OmanNewsAgency)

The leaders reviewed aspects of the existing bilateral cooperation between the two countries in various fields, and ways to support and strengthen the strong brotherly relations during their meeting, state news agency ONA reported.

Ahead of crown prince’s visit to the UAE, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman has sent a written message to President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed regarding both countries’ ‘strong fraternal relations and ways to support and enhance them.’

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and Sultan Haitham during their official talks in Muscat. (Twitter: @OmanNewsAgency)

Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Faisal bin Farhan delivered the King’s message to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, UAE vice president and prime minister and ruler of Dubai, state news agency SPA reported on Monday.

The Saudi crown prince’s official tour of the GCC states comes after an earlier royal directive from King Salman to ‘communicate with the leaders of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), and strengthen the brotherly ties for the service and interest of the peoples of the GCC countries.’

The crown prince is scheduled to meet later in his multiday tour the leaders of Qatar, Bahrain and Kuwait ‘to discuss bilateral relations and ways to enhance them in all fields, as well as issues of common interest’ as per the royal directive.


Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness

Saudi Arabia, Oman agree to strengthen media and business competitiveness
  • On the eve of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s arrival in Muscat, Saudi Arabia and Oman signed 13 memoranda of understanding, reportedly worth more than $10 billion and covering several sectors

DUBAI: Oman and Saudi Arabia signed on Tuesday a memorandum of understanding in the field of media related to strengthening cooperation between the two countries in news, audio-visual and print media, Oman’s state news agency reported.
Another memorandum aimed at enhancing the competitiveness of national industries and marketing research, encouraging joint activities and developing countries’ ease of business and e-commerce index was also signed. 
The latest round of cooperation comes a day after Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman arrived in Muscat to meet with Sultan Haitham bin Tarik as part of his official tour of GCC states.
On the eve of Saudi Crown Prince Salman’s arrival in Muscat, Saudi Arabia and Oman signed 13 memoranda of understanding, reportedly worth more than $10 billion and covering several sectors.


154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
Updated 07 December 2021

154 KSrelief food aid trucks sent to Yemen

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates. (KSrelief)
  • KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen

RIYADH: Dr. Abdullah Al Rabeeah, Supervisor General of King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Centre (KSrelief), inaugurated the launch of 154 relief trucks from Saudi Arabia on Monday. 

The convoy included 30,399 food baskets (3.252 tons) for distribution in 15 Yemeni governorates.

The food aid is the first to be sent by KSrelief to Yemen as part of the comprehensive “Yemen Food Security Support Project”, which will continue into 2022.

In comments to the Saudi Press Agency (SPA), Dr. Al-Rabeeah stated that this convoy comes as an extension of the commitment of the government of King Salman and Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to provide ongoing assistance to the Yemeni people and to support them during their current humanitarian crisis.

Al-Rabeeah added that Monday’s convoy from KSrelief is part of the center’s impartial, comprehensive assistance to people in need in all parts of Yemen, and that all aid is provided according solely to need and without any other motive.

He added that the 154-vehicle convoy is the first in what will amount to a total of 973 trucks carrying more than 192,000 food baskets (20.540 tons) for a total cost of $29,978,000. The goal of the massive food aid delivery project is to alleviate the suffering of crisis-affected families across Yemen.

Al-Rabeeah said the aid will help to increase food security and improve the quality of life of Yemenis, adding that this aid is particularly important in light of the additional challenges being posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

He stressed that KSrelief was keen to ensure that all aid reaches its targeted beneficiaries, and that the food baskets would be distributed through United Nations organizations and local partners in coordination with Yemen’s High Relief Committee.

KSrelief has implemented, in cooperation with its many humanitarian partners, a total of 644 projects in Yemen covering all key humanitarian sectors.


Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)
Updated 07 December 2021

Who’s Who: Fahad Almutlaq, CEO of Sharqia Development Authority

Fahad Almutlaq. (Supplied)

Fahad Almutlaq has served as CEO of Sharqia Development Authority since September 2019.
He has more than 20 years of experience in managing comprehensive development strategies, urban planning, building integrated development, legislation and empowerment initiatives. Almutlaq served as chief strategy officer at the Council for Economic Affairs and Development, which took part in the national strategy of Saudi Arabia, Vision 2030, between 2017 and 2019.
Before that, he served as CEO of the Arabian Industry and Services Group from June 2014 to August 2018. Almutlaq led significant mergers and acquisitions, and directed strategies and plans to accommodate social changes in the region.
He has held several positions in the Saudi Ministry of Defense, building international experience through working with one of the world’s largest aerospace and defense contractors, BAE Systems.
Almutlaq also worked with major science and technology companies and oversaw the construction and operations of the largest aerospace and industrial facility in the Middle East between 2011 and 2014. Within the ministry, he served as head of business development and future support and planning in 2010, and as program manager, based in the UK, between 2007 until 2010.
He held several positions in the Saudi Electricity Company, including head of the project management and planning division. Almutlaq also worked on civil, urban and electromechanical projects between 2004 and 2008, served as senior project engineer between 2003 and 2004, and before that worked as a planning engineer in the department of facilities planning and land use from 2001 to 2003.
He now serves on the board of several organizations.
Almutlaq holds two master’s degrees and an MBA in project and construction management. He has completed several practical and executive programs, covering strategic planning and leadership training.


Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
Updated 07 December 2021

Saudi environmental security officers protect sea and land ecosystems

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources. (Twitter: @SFES_KSA)
  • Among the arrested are illegal firewood traders

RIYADH: The Saudi Special Forces for Environmental Security have apprehended dozens of offenders for environmental violations as part of a recent crackdown.

The forces, under the command of the Ministry of Interior, arrested individuals who illegally moved sand and soil in Jeddah and Tabuk. People who illegally entered the Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve in northeast Riyadh and hunted wildlife in restricted areas were also detained.

Others were arrested while transporting local firewood and trafficking endangered fungi in Al-Muzahmiyya Governorate. Several other citizens were also caught selling local firewood in other regions of the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia is committed to protecting the environment and its natural resources across its vast territory. The Saudi environment law focuses on conservation, protection, development, pollution prevention, public health protection and the rational use of natural resources.

It also aims to make environmental planning an integral part of comprehensive development in industrial, agricultural and urban areas.

One practice that harms the Saudi environment is illegal dredging. Talal S. Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, warned that dredging and similar practices can negatively impact the environment and economy if studies are not conducted beforehand. Reduced fish stocks and damage to coral reefs are major consequences of poorly planned and illegal dredging.

Al-Rasheed added that taking sand and soil without a license is a “major disaster” because it changes the nature of the land by creating deep pits that cause accidents and endanger the lives of road users.

“Because the marine environment is sensitive to its habitat, when anything changes in nature, creatures begin to shift to other locations. Some of these habitats might not suitable for living. Because of the availability of suitable places for marine organisms, every species in the marine environment has a designated place to adapt to,” Al-Rasheed said.

Nasser M. Al-Hamidi, an environmental activist, said that burning or cutting trees in natural forests for wood is harmful to the environment and local communities due to smoke pollution.

He added that any attack on the environment, including dredging and stealing natural materials such as mountain rock deposits, poses a severe threat to the Kingdom’s natural beauty, which should be preserved for future generations.