Saudi Arabia unveils $120m esports and gaming investment funds at LEAP 2024

12 March 2024


Saudi Arabia announce two venture funds for gaming and esports
Photo Credit: SPA

Saudi Arabia’s National Development Fund (NDF) has announced the establishment of two venture funds in collaboration with the country’s Social Development Bank (SDB).

The signing was announced last week during the LEAP 2024 technology conference in Riyadh, with the funds valued at SAR 450m (~£93.81m or $120m).

The initiative, which is part of the Gaming and Esports Financing Programme, will provide funds for gaming and esports companies through equity investments. The fund aims to accelerate growth and amplify the industry’s economic and social impact.

ESI London 2024

The first investment fund, to be managed by Merak Capital, will have a total size of SAR 300m (~£62.54m) and focuses on creating a gaming accelerator backed by venture investment to position Saudi companies as leaders in the esports sector.

The second fund will be managed by consulting firm IMPACT46 and look to stimulate private sector investment in the local gaming and esports industry. With a total size of SAR 150m (~£31.27m), the fund aims to attract firms and studios to help them establish a bigger presence in the country.

Saudi Arabia has become a major player in the esports industry over the past few years. The country is developing top-tier global competitions such as the Esports World Cup and has heavily invested in the space through financial efforts, despite the ecosystem undergoing economic difficulties that the industry has dubbed the ‘esports winter‘.

However, Saudi Arabia is often criticised for its attempt to ‘esportswash, a term used by sections of the esports community that implies that the government’s investment in the space is an attempt to mask the country’s human rights record.

Dr. Stephen Grove, Governor of NDF, commented: “The gaming and Esports industry has seen exponential growth globally, generating substantial revenue and job opportunities.

“With Saudi Arabia’s young demographic and other attractive investment components, NDF and our partners are prioritising innovative financing solutions for this industry. We aim to ensure its financial sustainability and contribute to the Kingdom’s economic diversification and job creation efforts.”

Davide Xu