Next World Forum launches in Saudi Arabia as global gaming and esports sector urges collaboration to drive progress

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·       Forum highlights the future opportunities and challenges facing esports and gaming

·       Day 1 showcased new ideas, investment, and talent development in the industry

·       Key industry players from Europe, Asia, Australia and USA assemble in Riyadh

·       National Development Fund confirms SAR 300m funding programme to gaming in KSA

The Next World Forum, a new esports and gaming forum organized by the Saudi Esports Federation, commenced today – bringing together some of the biggest sector leaders and experts from across the globe.

More than 1000 delegates have united in Riyadh to highlight the future, opportunities and challenges facing esports and gaming.

“Today we have an opportunity, not only to discuss the trends and the limits of this sector but an opportunity to collectively move them,” said His Royal Highness Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan, Chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation.

“Gaming and esports is a sector that lives at the crossroads of technology, telecommunications, storytelling and so much more. It presents us with countless opportunities for innovation that are ready to be born when the great minds of specialization come together”.

A ‘Saudi Spotlight’ panel united some of the most prominent government and private sector figures propelling Saudi Arabia’s growth strategy for gaming and  

HRH Prince Faisal said: “The question should not be “Why Saudi?”, it should be now “Why not Saudi?” The passionate gaming community is there, we hosted global events, we have all the abilities to compete and our young community – men and women – have shown the world what they can do.”

“We expect a 250% increase in the Saudi gaming market from now until 2030,” added H.E. Dr. Mohammed bin Saud Al Tamimi, Governor, Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC).

“There will be a contribution to GDP to be 50 times for the same period with gaming spending 25% higher than other comparable markets.”

NEOM and Qiddiyah are both examples of giga-projects building communities with gaming and esports at the heart of their vision.

Abdullah Aldawood, Managing Director, Qiddiya Investment Company, Saudi Arabia “Our eGaming district will host a number of esports and gaming venues, providing the infrastructure that the industry needs for the gaming community to compete, engage, and most importantly belong.”

“Gaming lives in the middle of the 16 sectors that form NEOM’s future economy. Gaming is the name of the game,” added Nadhmi Al Nasr, CEO, NEOM, Saudi Arabia.

Confirming that investment commitment in Saudi Arabia was an announcement from the National Development Fund. It has committed a SAR 300m funding programme that will support national talent, teams and experiences alongside the Saudi Esports Federation and Ignite – the government’s digital content initiative.

The Forum also brought together a range of international speakers including Chester King, British Esports and Vice President, Global Esports Federation and Stephan Fox, President, United Through Sports and Vice President, GAISF, Thailand.

“The respect for gaming and esports worldwide is fantastic,” said King.

“The industry is very inclusive, collaboration is key, and we look forward to the amazing things we can achieve together,” he added.  

King and Fox discussed a new frontier of gaming and esports is driving media consumption and outperforming box office earnings, music streaming and album sales annually with gaming revenue expected to reach over $200 billion by 2023 – an annual 8% growth rate 2018.

King added: “The gaming industry is bigger than all these media industries put together. Mainstream sports such as every Premier League football team in the UK and Formula 1 have e-sports teams as the sectors continue to merge.”

Delegates were able to enjoy a host of workshops targeted for entrepreneurs, women in gaming and an interactive session where live pitches took place for funding from the Social Development Bank to support start-up financing.

“We have really put ourself in the map as female gamers because we understood the potential of having female teams, there is nothing stopping us from having female gamers when it’s all a mental game,” said Haya Al Qadi, Marketing Manager, Galaxy Racer, United Arab Emirates

The rise of virtual and physical gaming experiences and communities were themes throughout the day through new arenas being built in the Kingdom, event experiences, design and infrastructure as gamers across the world seek a place to socialize and connect.

This was closely followed by emerging thinking about the Metaverse and its true value for brands, companies, gaming developers and publishers – with the need for the communities to work together to unlock its true potential.  

“I wish everyone here finds the inspiration and partners they desire so that they may leave here ready to unleash this sector’s potential and start building the next world,” concluded HRH Prince Faisal.

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