Saudi Arabia has ramped up its economic diversification efforts driven by its ambitious Vision 2030.
In a bid to diversify its economy away from a dependence on oil, the kingdom has embraced emerging technologies, such as blockchain and artificial intelligence (AI), and tapped into booming markets like gaming.
But while the country has yet to leave a significant mark in the global game and AI development, the ripples of its investments in the gaming sector could extend far beyond — at least, that’s what Web3 experts say.
“Based on our work and communications that we have, Saudi [Arabia] is very, very interested in Web3,” Animoca Brands co-founder Yat Siu told Cointelegraph.
“I think Saudi [Arabia] understands the principle that Web3 gaming or blockchain gaming — the one that we actually prove the owner assets — is going to be the future of gaming.”
Thanks to the interest of its young, tech-savvy population, Saudi Arabia, along with the United Arab Emirates, is driving the growth of the Middle East’s gaming market. According to a Boston Consulting Group report, the kingdom represents 45% of the sector in the region, with a value of more than $1.8 billion. It also boasts one of the largest game revenues in the area, according to game content studio Allcorrect.
In 2017, the kingdom established the Saudi Esports Federation to regulate and develop the country’s gaming industry.
Bloomberg reported in April that Saudi Arabia, through its Public Investment Fund, invested $38 billion in the sector as it looks to become a global gaming hub.
Although the Saudi government understands the “high-level concept” of Web3, its potential, and how it can align with esports — where teams can own stakes in games they play — Siu said it remains unclear what its integrations to gaming would be due to the absence of clear rules on cryptocurrency and other virtual assets:
“Cryptocurrency is something that is still to be explored. It’s being investigated. I think [Saudi Arabia is] quite forward about how to deal with it. But they haven’t come up with anything yet.”
“In places like Hong Kong, Japan and the UAE, there’s much more clarity as to what you can do with crypto and…