Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) and the Arab Esports Federation, talks with participants during the Next World Forum held in Riyadh in August, 2023. (Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn)
China's fast-growing esports sector will continue to attract Saudi capital in the years ahead providing huge opportunities for gaming companies and talents in both sides, said a Saudi royalty.
The gaming and esports sector in Saudi Arabia is experiencing rapid growth. This aligns with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 and economic diversification plans, aiming for long-term prosperity. The vision has enabled the exploration of new sectors, including gaming and esports, benefiting the country enormously, said Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) and the Arab Esports Federation.
Launched by the Saudi government in 2016, Saudi Vision 2030 is an economic and social reform blueprint designed to open the kingdom up to the world, and boost communication and coordination on regional and international affairs.
China is the largest single-country market in the world for esports, and Chinese tech giants are investing heavily in gaming, said Prince Faisal, adding that the country's booming gaming industry has led to the development of several world-class gaming companies. These companies continue investing heavily in new games and platforms.
The National Gaming and Esports Strategy, launched in 2022 in Saudi Arabia aims to cater to a massive community of around 23.5 million gaming enthusiasts. The sector will unlock the economic contribution of more than 50 billion Saudi riyals annually to the kingdom's economic prosperity by 2030.
The Next World Forum, a major global industry gathering created to shape the future of gaming and esports through knowledge exchange, discourse and debate, was held in Riyadh in August. By bringing together global experts and pioneers in gaming and esports, the event creates a platform for collaboration, idea exchange, and tackling industry challenges.
Eager to gather more resources, Saudi Arabia's Savvy Games Group invested $265 million in VSPO, a Chinese esports startup specializing in tournaments, venues and production in February. Under this deal, Savvy, owned by Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund, will now become VSPO's single largest equity holder.
"We have achieved significant progress in building a thriving esports ecosystem within the country by successfully establishing a network of gaming communities, creating spaces for gamers to connect and collaborate," said Prince Faisal.
Given the opportunities provided by the Belt and Road Initiative and Saudi Vision 2030, the potential for business cooperation between China and Saudi Arabia will be unleashed in areas such as 5G, esports, trade in services, production of new energy vehicles and smart-city development, said Sun Fuquan, vice-president of the Chinese Academy of Science and Technology for Development.