Saudi Arabia has taken a significant step to enhance its gaming and eSports industries by investing $488 million. The funds have been combined from the Saudi eSports Federation, the National Development Fund, and the Social Development Bank. This recent move is an important stride towards Saudi Arabia’s objective of establishing itself as a dominant player in the thriving gaming sector on a global level.
The country’s eSports strategy was announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman last year, with the aim of making Saudi Arabia the world’s leading gaming hub by 2030. According to several surveys, the Saudi Arabian gaming industry is projected to experience substantial growth over the next decade, with eSports driving much of that growth.
Bold Actions & Ambitious Plans
Rawan Al Butairi, director of the federal government’s international affairs office, recently delivered a speech indicating that Saudi Arabia is focusing on the growth of eSports and gaming. The $488 million investment is just one of the numerous efforts aimed at fostering the country’s gaming sector, according to Al Butairi. Experts from arabic-casinos.org believe that his remarks support Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s plan to revitalize the country’s economy through modernized gaming platforms.
In September 2022, the Crown Prince announced his plan to create over 39,000 job opportunities in Saudi Arabia’s eSports industry by 2030, through the National Gaming and eSports Strategy. The strategy aims to develop over 30 games in local studios across the country, explaining the significant funding efforts directed toward local innovators and developers. The prince’s strategy was a pivotal moment for the gaming industry in Saudi Arabia, as the authorities signaled their full support for it, in contrast to previous statements. The prince’s passion for online gaming is evident in his regular participation in eSports competitions for “Call of Duty.” This, along with the zeal of stakeholders, led to the establishment of the Saudi eSports Federation in 2017. The governing body has since been instrumental in the development of the country’s gaming industry, resulting in the formation of over 100 eSports teams.
Saudi Arabia’s investment in the gaming industry is informed by growth projections. A recent YouGov survey predicts that the country’s gambling industry will experience a 250% growth by 2030, driven by eSports. The gaming industry is expected to contribute 50 times more to the country’s GDP by 2030 than it did in 2022, according to a British market research firm. Boston Consulting Group’s report projects that gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia will reach $8 billion by 2030, translating to a compound annual growth rate of about 22% for the industry.
Dutch research firm Newzoo predicts that the global gaming industry will grow by nearly 15% by 2025, reaching an estimated $211.2 billion. The report indicates that Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry is growing the fastest among Middle Eastern countries, with a 4% growth rate in 2022. The gaming market in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at a similar rate to the rest of the world. According to a recent Fortune Business Insights report, the market will surpass $5 billion, up from $1.4 billion in 2022.
The Fast-Changing iGaming Terrain
Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry plans, goals, and actions are both the cause and result of the current changes. The Arab world, particularly Saudi Arabia, is rapidly adopting a new perspective on gaming and developing ambitious plans to capitalize on the industry’s tremendous potential.
What was once merely a source of entertainment has evolved into a popular social activity with potential to earn players a consistent livelihood. Gaming has become a part of people’s lives in the Arab world as the region sheds previous misconceptions about the sector. According to a recent survey, the Middle East and North Africa region have nearly the same number of gamers as Europe, with 377 million versus 386 million in Europe.
This figure reflects both the recent pandemic’s impact and the growing popularity of gaming in the Arab world backed by huge investments. The love of gaming has led to the Middle East’s youth, particularly in Saudi Arabia, frequently organizing gaming tournaments and competitions.
Saudi Arabia’s commitment to the gaming industry is evident through its establishment of oversight authorities, development of focused strategies, and allocation of significant funds toward gaming-related activities. These actions position Saudi Arabia as a global leader in the gaming industry. While the country’s efforts are promising, it remains to be seen if they will ultimately lead to the desired outcome, as other nations are also vying for leadership in the gaming industry. The competition among nations highlights the immense potential of the gaming industry and its ability to shape global economies.