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Saudi Arabia Invests $120 Million in Gaming and Esports

Saudi Arabia Invests $120 Million in Gaming and Esports Ventures to Boost Industry Growth

Posted on March 14, 2024
Writer: James Miller

Saudi Arabia is taking a significant leap in the gaming and esports industry by unveiling two new venture funds. The funds were announced during the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, which wrapped up on March 7.

The initiative, a collaboration between the National Development Fund (NDF) and the Social Development Bank (SDB), aims to inject SAR 450 million ($120m) into this burgeoning sector. 

These funds are part of the Gaming and Esports Financing Programme, which is designed to accelerate growth and bolster the industry’s economic and social impact.

The first fund, managed by Merak Capital, is worth SAR 300 million ($80m). It seeks to establish a gaming accelerator that combines venture investments to propel Saudi companies to the forefront of esports. 

The second, overseen by consulting firm IMPACT46, is worth SAR 150 million ($40m). Its goal is to attract private sector investments into Saudi Arabia’s local gaming and esports market, facilitating expansion for firms and studios within the Kingdom. 

This move aligns with Saudi Arabia’s ambition to become a global esports hub, hosting prestigious events like the Esports World Cup despite the industry’s economic challenges.

However, amidst this significant investment, the initiative is facing criticism. 

Some community voices accuse Saudi Arabia of “esportswashing” — an attempt to overshadow the country’s human rights concerns by highlighting its esports investments. 

In response, Dr. Stephen Grove, Governor of NDF, emphasized the rapid growth of the global gaming and esports industry. 

He highlighted its potential for generating revenue and creating jobs. 

“With Saudi Arabia’s young demographic and attractive investment components, we and our partners are prioritizing innovative financing solutions for this sector,” Grove said. 

He underlines the initiative’s objectives: financial sustainability, economic diversification, and job creation.

Read the full story at Esports Insider.

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