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Saudi Arabia's PIF launches esports group, acquires ESL Gaming, FACEIT

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Saudi Arabia has launched a group to develop its video gaming industry, state media reported Wednesday, as the Gulf country seeks to diversify its predominantly oil-dependent economy.

Video gaming and esports have grown in popularity in the Kingdom of some 35 million people, the majority of whom are under the age of 25.

Saudi Arabia’s games market reached $1 billion in 2021, the highest value among the Arab countries of the Gulf, according to market researcher Niko Partners.

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Saudi-backed Savvy Gaming Group, headed by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, aims to be a “pioneer in the development of the gaming and esports industry locally and internationally,” according to the official Saudi Press Agency.

The group, backed by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), has acquired esports companies ESL Gaming and FACEIT, it said.

The establishment of Savvy Gaming Group will contribute “to providing opportunities for development and for promoting diverse sources of economic income,” it added.

The launch aims to “create opportunities for the growth and diversification of Saudi Arabia’s economy, to help achieve the objectives of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030,” according to a PIF statement.

Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Egypt are forecast to have a total of 85.8 million gamers generating $3.1 billion in revenue by 2025, said Niko Partners.

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