MbS announces huge Saudi $38 billion investment in e-games

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MbS) announced on Thursday that the kingdom would be investing a whopping $37.7 billion in the e-sports industry.

The money will be channeled via the Savvy Games Fund, a new arm of the kingdom's Public Investment Fund (PIF) and headed by MbS which aims to make Saudi Arabia a global gaming hub.

It is part of huge investments by Riyadh in the entertainment industry, part of plans to diversify Saudi Arabia's economy away from oil and gas.

"Savvy Games Group is one part of our ambitious strategy aiming to make Saudi Arabia the ultimate global hub for the games and esports sector by 2030," MbS said in a statement.

"We are harnessing the untapped potential across the esports and games sector to diversify our economy, drive innovation in the sector and further scale the entertainment and esports competition offerings across the Kingdom."

The investment will be divided into four parts - $13.3 billion for acquiring and developing the games industry in Saudi Arabia, around $18.7 billion poured into other game publishers, $533 million for developing early-stage gaming and e-sports companies, and another $5.3 billion to support Savvy Games strategic partnerships.

The strategy aims at establishing 250 e-games companies in Saudi Arabia to create 39,000 jobs and contribute around $13 billion to the economy by 2030.

Saudi Arabia has already made huge investments via the PIF in the gaming sector across the world including $1 billion poured into Sweden's Embracer Group, and taking a 5 percent stake in Japan's Nintendo.

The PIF has already made other massive investments in developing Saudi Arabia domestic entertainment industry and took out huge stakes in football clubs such as Newcastle United.

The Riyadh Season festival is another new addition overseen by MbS, which features live music and plays in a bid to dust off Saudi Arabia's conservative image.

Human rights groups have slammed Saudi Arabia's attempts at "sports washing", accusing Riyadh of huge abuses including the jailing of activists and killing thousands in Yemen.

Earlier this month, a Saudi mother of five was given a 45-year jail sentence for critical tweets she allegedly made against the government.

© Al-Araby Al-Jadeed