Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and Prime Minister, Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, has revealed plans to launch an annual Esports World Cup in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, beginning in the summer of 2024. This World Cup will cover all the top esports games – shooters, sports, fighting, you name it. The total prize money is going to be the biggest ever in esports, but they haven’t shared the exact amount yet.
The brand new non-profit Esports World Cup Foundation set up by the government will run the tournament.
Notably, the Esports World Cup will replace Gamers8, the Saudi Esports Federation’s existing esports festival in Riyadh, which boasts a million investment. While the specific game titles to be featured have not been disclosed, they are described as encompassing the most popular games globally, representing various genres. GGBET will provide comprehensive coverage for all the events, offering you the opportunity to experience the genuine excitement of live betting.
Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman says this new Esports World Cup lines up with Saudi Arabia’s National Gaming and Esports Strategy that he announced last September.
In Riyadh, they are also planning additional festivals and activities. The idea is to draw tourists and visitors to the region.
Visitors will have an entertaining incentive to come during the sweltering Saudi heat, thanks to this indoor esports competition. When it becomes so scorching hot, spending on tourism usually declines.
To promote esports throughout the nation, the government has already committed significant expenditures. They acquired stock in well-known gaming studios, launched an organization to organize tournaments, and put on a sizable esports festival.
Thus, the Prince’s goal of making Saudi Arabia a global center for esports is aligned with this World Cup. It should be interesting for the locals as well as putting Saudi esports on the map. Seeing everything come together will be thrilling!
Tourists will be drawn to this indoor tournament throughout the summer, when travel often decreases because of the intense heat.
As part of its Vision 2030 project, the Saudi Arabian government has lately made significant investments in the esports industry. They partnered with ESL FACEIT, the company that organizes tournaments, planned an extravagant $45 million esports event, and purchased shares in big game development companies.
The kingdom’s esports and gaming industry was the focus of an incredible $38 billion investment plan unveiled in September 2022 by the state-owned Savvy Games Group.
But among the esports world, Saudi Arabia’s bold move to establish itself as a major global hub for esports has drawn harsh criticism. Critics have dubbed this unexpected cash infusion “esportswashing,” implying that it is a deliberate attempt to utilize esports to improve the nation’s image and draw attention away from its human rights record.
Saudi Arabia has faced ongoing condemnation for its restrictive policies, including the criminalization of homosexuality, constraints on women’s rights and freedoms, suppression of political dissent, and alleged human rights abuses. There are concerns about the safety and well-being of players, staff, and spectators attending esports events hosted in the kingdom, given these conditions.
The announcement of the Esports World Cup came during the New Global Sports Conference, a business-focused esports networking event in Riyadh hosted by the Saudi Esports Federation and the Ministry of Sport.
The Crown Prince sees this Esports World Cup as the next big step to make Saudi Arabia a top global hub for gaming and esports. He says the tournament will offer a really unique esports experience and push the whole industry forward.
The Prince stressed how this event plays a key role in achieving Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals. Those goals include growing the economy, boosting tourism, making new jobs, and providing great entertainment for locals and visitors.
But critics see things really differently. They say the World Cup is mostly just a public relations move to distract from Saudi Arabia’s ongoing human rights issues. In their view, the country is using the excitement around esports to redirect focus from problems like limits on free speech and women’s rights that are still happening.
IESF Appoints Prince Faisal Of Saudi Arabia As President
The International Esports Federation (IESF) has announced the appointment of HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Sultan Al Saud, a Saudi Arabian royal family member, as its Active President. Prince Faisal takes over the role from the former President, Vlad Marinescu, who has stepped down due to the evolving demands of serving the global esports community. Prince Faisal, also the President of the Saudi Esports Federation, currently holds the position of Vice President at the Global Esports Federation and serves as the President of the Arab Esports Federation. His appointment as President of IESF is effective immediately, pending a confirmation vote at the upcoming General Assembly.
IESF runs the World Esports Championship, which is a big international esports tournament based on countries competing.
Having Prince Faisal take over as President is seen as a strategic play to boost cooperation globally in esports. Having a Saudi royal in charge could also help build stronger relationships with game publishers and the Olympic Movement. The thinking is that putting someone from the royal family at the helm will open new doors and connections in competitive gaming.
Vlad Marinescu, the outgoing President of IESF, expressed his confidence in Prince Faisal, stating, “He is a person that I respect and appreciate, who breathes and bleeds esports. He’s shown in Saudi Arabia everything a National Federation can accomplish. He’s widely respected and holds major roles in the Global Esports Federation. He is a friend who I trust with this heavy next task and to further develop and promote the IESF.”
The recent announcement of Prince Faisal’s appointment follows IESF’s decision to hold its next World Esports Championship event in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia has been putting a lot of money into esports lately. The government helped start the ESL FACEIT Group, bought Vindex, held a million-dollar esports festival, and bought parts of big game studios. In September 2022, Saudi Arabia announced a big national gaming and esports plan with huge investments.
But Saudi Arabia, being so involved in esports has also faced some backlash and controversy. It is due to the country’s human rights record, including LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and censorship.
Critics say Saudi Arabia is using esports to help clean up its public image – something called “esportswashing.”
But even with the controversies, IESF is still focused on promoting esports and building global cooperation. As the new Active President, Prince Faisal wants to keep organizing worldwide esports tournaments and create an inclusive space for fair play. The goal is to support the growth of esports communities globally.
In June, allegations of irregularities were reported surrounding Romania’s Isai sports body and IESF, including concerns about the payment of the World Esports Championship 2023 license fee to a North Macedonian subsidiary reportedly controlled by Vlad Marinescu. IESF strongly denied any wrongdoing in response to these allegations.