RIYADH: Saudi Arabia is striving to become a global player in the esports sector within the next decade, propelling the industry into the forefront of the world stage, according to Prince Faisal bin Bandar, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation.
In an interview with Arab News on the sidelines of the two-day Next World Forum in Riyadh, Prince Faisal outlined the nation’s ambitious goal amid projections that the global gaming community will grow to 3.7 billion gamers.
“We have stated in our national gaming and esports strategy that we expect by 2030 gaming and esports to be SR50 billion in contribution to the GDP (gross domestic product) of Saudi Arabia, which we’re equating to roughly 1 percent,” he said.
The chairman highlighted the initial focus of the Saudi Esports Federation when it was established in 2018 revolved around regulatory streamlining, establishing server infrastructure, and hosting games in the local language.
However, he noted that discussions are now about joining the top ranks of esports nations. Currently, Africa and South Asia hold significant sway in the gaming sector.
Despite this, Prince Faisal expressed confidence that Saudi Arabia will soon join these nations with a robust esports industry.
“68 percent of our population consider themselves gamers, which is mirrored across the Gulf and the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region,” he said.
The chairman emphasized that Saudi Arabia, through investments from the Public Investment Fund and the National Strategy for Gaming and Esports, is starting to create a picture of a strong community and a growing professional group.
Furthermore, the Kingdom is collaborating with the Ministry of Education to create job opportunities in the gaming and esports sector through the federation’s local academy.
“There are so many areas for job creation in gaming and esports that people don’t overlook. And the key to it is a saying, whatever you are good at. Are you a lawyer, a finance guy, a coach, a player? There is a career pathway for you,” added the federation head.
Prince Faisal underlined that global expansion in gaming must encompass more than just profit generation; it should also have a meaningful and positive impact on both global and individual levels.
“There has to be not just growth, but there must be growth for good. There have to be other applications, not just profit generation ... an impact on the global stage and the person because, at the end of the day, this industry is about the community,” the chairman told Arab News.
He added: “We’re not saying how do you move and grow here, but how do you become a global player with a ten-year outlook and how can you use that capability to change the industry and bring this industry into the next world.”