Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

Saudi Arabia launches e-sports world cup

Esports gamer Unsplash/Florian Olivo
The esports market in Saudi Arabia is predicted to exceed $2.6bn by 2027
  • Part of plan for $13bn GDP lift
  • Tournament to lure summer visitors
  • ‘Global centre’ role sought

Saudi Arabia has announced the launch of the E-sports World Cup, to be held annually in Riyadh from 2024. 

The world cup is part of the kingdom’s National Gaming and E-sports Strategy, designed to increase the sector’s contribution to the country’s GDP by more than SAR50 billion ($13.3 billion) by 2030, establish 250 game developers and create 39,000 new jobs.

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Saudi Prime Minister, unveiled the new competition, which will take place in the summer months. He said the government had established the E-sports World Cup Foundation, a non-profit organisation, to drive the sector’s sustainability.

Prince Mohammed said the World Cup is the “natural next step” in Saudi Arabia’s journey to become a global centre for gaming and e-sports.

A range of activities and events will run alongside the tournament, to try to attract more tourists to the capital city during the traditionally quieter summer months, when temperatures soar. 

During the summer hotel occupancy in Saudi Arabia drops by an average 16 percent, tourism spending falls 18 percent, and restaurant and cafe spending decline 13 percent.

Nation of gamers

The consumer intelligence company Standard Insights said Saudi Arabia’s gaming industry is on a fast-paced trajectory – the market is projected to exceed $2.6 billion by 2027, an annual growth rate of 7.5 percent. 

Analysts said the country boasts a significant gamer population, with around 21 million gamers, accounting for about 58 percent of the total population. 

According to Standard Insights’ Consumer Report Saudi Arabia 2023, almost a quarter of the local population spends between one and five hours a week playing video games.

Last year, Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund announced a SR300 million fund to provide financing through banks affiliated with the Fund, in partnership with financial institutions in the private sector.

In February, Saudi’s Public Investment Fund bought a $265 million stake in the Chinese e-sports outfit VSPO, to become the company’s single largest equity holder.

The same month, it raised its stake in the gaming giant Nintendo to 8.26 percent, and it has also invested in the Swedish video game company Embracer Group.

The wider Middle East and North Africa is the fastest-growing gaming market in the world, with an industry forecast to be worth $5 billion by 2025, up from $1.78 billion last year. Estimates for the number of gamers in the region hover around the 375 million mark.

Latest articles

Aircraft, Airliner, Airplane

Tunisair growth slows as costs rise

Tunisair’s revenue increased by only 3 percent year on year to TND695 million ($224 million) in the first half of 2024, as fuel costs rose and its market share shrank. Passenger numbers went up by 2 percent to 1.17 million, compared to 1.15 million a year ago, the state-run Tunis Afrique Presse reported. Average revenue […]

A cattle drive in the Pantanal region. Meat is a major component of Brazil's trade with Saudi Arabia

Brazil’s JBS to open Saudi food factory as trade ties deepen

Brazilian multinational JBS is to open a food factory in Saudi Arabia with an investment of SAR500 million ($133 million), in a further sign of the strengthening ties between the two countries. JBS, one of the largest meat and poultry producers in the world, will open the facility in Jeddah under its subsidiary Seara by […]

Architecture, Building, Convention Center

First Abu Dhabi Bank revenue rises on overseas growth

First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), the UAE’s biggest lender, said revenues rose 16 percent year on year to AED15.7 billion ($4.3 billion) in the first half of 2024, driven by 30 percent annual growth in international franchise. Net profit increased 3 percent to AED8.4 billion despite the impact of corporate tax, which came into effect […]