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Saudi Arabia pumps $120 million to boost gaming, esports industry

March 14, 2024

The National Development Fund (NDF), in collaboration with the Social Development Bank (SDB), announced the signing of two agreements to establish two venture funds with a total size of SAR450 million ($120 million).

The announcement was made during the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, marking a significant step towards nurturing the thriving gaming and eSports industries.

The initiative is part of the Gaming and Esports Financing Programme, cooperating with the Saudi Esports Federation. Merak Capital and IMPACT46, the entities managing the two funds, will provide development financing for gaming and Esports companies through equity investments, in an effort to accelerate growth, enhances local content development, and amplifies the industry’s economic and social impact to achieve the objectives of the National Gaming and Esports Strategy and the Digital Content Program (Ignite).

Merak Capital is set to manage the first investment fund, with a size of SAR300 million ($80 million), focusing on establishing a gaming accelerator backed by venture investment to spur growth and cultivate local talent in the gaming industry. The goal is to position Saudi companies as leaders in this vibrant sector.

The second fund, managed by IMPACT46 and totalling SAR150 million ($40 million), seeks to stimulate private sector investment in the local gaming and Esports industry. Additionally, it seeks to attract international firms and studios to establish a more substantial presence in the Kingdom, further enriching the sector’s ecosystem.

Dr. Stephen Grove, Governor of NDF, stated, “The gaming and Esports industry has seen exponential growth globally, generating substantial revenue and job opportunities. With Saudi Arabia’s young demographic and other attractive investment components, NDF and our partners are prioritizing innovative financing solutions for this industry. We aim to ensure its financial sustainability and contribute to the Kingdom’s economic diversification and job creation efforts.”

Eng. Sultan Al-Humaidi, CEO of SDB, emphasized SDB’s commitment to supporting the gaming and e-sports industry, recognizing its potential for growth within the Kingdom. “Our objective is to cultivate the industry to self-sufficiency, positioning the Kingdom as a global hub. We provide the necessary support to ensure this venture succeeds, advancing the Saudi digital economy forward as a key component of the Kingdom’s digital transformation goals aligned with Saudi Vision 2030.”

This comes as part of NDF’s endeavors to develop the Saudi promising sectors and enhance their contribution to the national economy. All of this can be accomplished through empowerment and financial development support, to establish an environment that attracts local talent, deliver promising experiences, and target top-tier game production and development projects.

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