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With Prince Gamer and billions of dollars in oil, Saudis turn to esports

Gamers from eight countries donned headphones and sweatproof finger sleeves and guided gun-toting avatars to a battle royale in the Saudi capital. Cheering onlookers watched the action on the big screen.

The PUBG Mobile tournament was part of Gamers 8. This is a summer festival that spotlights Saudi Arabia’s emergence as a global esports dynamo. Officials hope to be able to compete with powerhouses such as China and South Korea.

These moves have drawn the kind of criticism Saudi officials have come to expect, with some eSports leaders speaking out against Riyadh’s human rights record.

Gamers in Saudi Arabia, meanwhile, are reveling in their country’s new status and the spectacular prize pool it brings.

“Thankfully, now is the best time to play esports and participate in tournaments,” he added, noting that what was once a hobby has turned into a lucrative “work.”

Saudi Arabia’s interest in gaming and eSports comes from very high places, with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said to be an avid ‘Call of Duty’ player.

According to the survey, 21 million people, nearly two-thirds of the nation’s population, consider themselves gamers.

Last week, Prince Mohammed announced a national esports strategy that calls for the kingdom to create more than 30 games in domestic studios while creating about 39,000 esports-related jobs by 2030.

British Esports CEO Chester King said:

The game is also expected to be a major component of headline-grabbing development projects such as the Red Sea megacity NEOM, which is planning a 170-kilometer (105-mile) twin skyscraper known as The Line.

Two years ago, Riot Games announced a partnership in which NEOM would sponsor the European Championship for the game League of Legends.

League of Legends is considered LGBTQ-friendly and last week named gay hip-hop star Lil Nas X to the honorary title of “President.”

– Esports washing? –

But Saudi officials are undaunted and deeply behind the world of eSports.

“Esports require money compared to things like golf.”

“Laundering is a term that presupposes starting with something dirty. The culture of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is beautiful and rich,” Marinescu told AFP.

“One of the most amazing things for me was at a recent event at Gamers 8, a lot of young Saudi players came up to me and said, ‘We always liked to see these things, but , I didn’t think I could do it here,” he recalled.

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first published as With Prince Gamer and billions of dollars in oil, Saudis turn to esports

With Prince Gamer and billions of dollars in oil, Saudis turn to esports

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