Q&A With Maha Aloufi, Strategy Executive Director at the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF)

  • What is so special about the gaming and esports strategy that Saudi is developing and executing?


Let me start by talking about the constant growing numbers of players within the kingdom – we’re now at around 23.5 million gaming enthusiasts. And under the custodianship of HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, last year Saudi Arabia launched the National Gaming and Esports Strategy, which aims to unify all efforts in making the Kingdom ‘the center of the game’. In other words, a global hub for gaming and esports. 


  • How does the National Gaming and Esports Strategy align with the objectives and initiatives of the Saudi Esports Federation? And how are you helping to realize the goals in terms of the strategy?


The National Gaming and Esports strategy aims to tap into the full value chain of the sector. So, for example, starting with publishers, we’re actually supporting publishers from hosting and marketing their games within our events. When it comes to game developers, by creating collaborations with gaming centers or gaming studios from the players and teams’ perspective. And by creating a comprehensive career pathway for them where there is a brighter future, and everyone is welcome to play.


  • From a global point of view, what do you think other markets, especially other markets who are key industry players within the esports sector, can learn from the federation?


The aim of the strategy is to unify efforts. What we’re actually offering to the world is to unify all existing efforts towards the goal of building the sector. 


  • Please give us a couple of examples of how the Saudi Esports Federation’s activities and programs are contributing to the broader goals of the national strategy?


Federations are usually limited to community tournaments. However, the Saudi Esports Federation aspires to develop pro players to give them a platform, develop events across a full-year calendar, and develop the educational aspects from a technical point of view. That is in addition to areas such as product management or managing a team and much more. All of this is being aligned within a very well-structured plan for us to build not just a pro player but the whole career pathway of that player, and not just a team but multi teams that actually contribute to the sector and to the international scene as well. The growth strategy is exceptionally well rounded. 


  • What is the vision and what do you think the future holds in the next five years, for example?


The vision gets bigger, and the events get bigger. What we’re aiming to achieve is not just having one type of the value chain but elements that actually create a sector. What we’re aiming to do is to develop the whole value chain at once: with clubs and teams, publisher relationships, game development studios, content creation, the community and engaging the communities and fans, and so much more. We already host the biggest gaming and esports festival worldwide in the Kingdom – what’s next is to actually grow bigger and bigger and become a global hub for gaming and esports. I can safely say that our strategy for this is just the beginning. 

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