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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - RIYADH: As the world steadily embraces technologies like the metaverse, governments all across the globe should establish a digital legal framework for the healthy functioning of virtual platforms, experts said.
Speaking at a panel discussion during the Next World Forum in Riyadh on Thursday, they said the legal framework should be made in such a way that it helps attract talent.
“Countries that understand the importance of establishing a digital legal framework will become very attractive over the next decades,” said Sebastien Borget, COO and co-founder of The Sandbox.
Yat Siu, executive chairman and co-founder of Animoca Brands said that the first step governments should take is to recognize digital assets as actual properties.
Siu further pointed out that Saudi Arabia offers huge potential for advanced technologies to grow as the Kingdom’s population is very much tech-savvy.
“Saudi Arabia is the 12th most active country, where users spend over 8 hours online, which is more than their working hours,” noted Siu.
The forum, a major global industry gathering created to shape the future of the rapidly evolving gaming and esports sector, concluded on Thursday with a host of top international participants.
High-profile guests from the worlds of gaming, entertainment, technology, sports, and government, led discussions on an industry worth around $170 billion — more than Hollywood and the music industry combined.
Prince Faisal bin Bandar, chairman of the Saudi Esports Federation, was one of several speakers on the opening day.
“Saudi Arabia aims to become a global hub for gaming and esports, and hosting events such as Next World Forum is a key part of the journey to fulfilling that quest,” Prince Faisal said on the opening day of the two-day forum.
More than 2,500 delegates attended the event. Prince Faisal bin Bandar said becoming a global hub for gaming and esports is not just above investment. It is about one’s readiness to push the boundaries, he added.
Gareth Bale, former star footballer, esports investor and enthusiast, and director of Primesure Ltd., appeared on a celebrity panel alongside Michael Bay, the director and producer of Bay Films, and Gary Vaynerchuk, the CEO of Vaynermedia.
Bale, a five-time Champions League winner with Real Madrid, said the growth of esports could see gamers become more popular than footballers with sponsors and the public.
“Never say never. The scope is so big,” he said. “Esports is catching up with real football, and that’s not a bad thing. It gives kids a lot more opportunities to do what they want. Even my kids now, are growing up enjoying their consoles and have the opportunity to interact with their friends in another country.
“It’s a nice way to keep in touch — we’ve been in Spain, America, and obviously Wales and England, and they play games online and keep in touch. From where gaming has gone from when I started playing to now is incredible — just look at the facial hair and the acrobatics in celebrations.”
Bale added: “Since I’ve had the opportunity to invest in esports, it’s been really good. It’s been nice to invest and give opportunities to others.
“Virtual reality is becoming the next best thing to the real thing.”
Jessica Tams, co-founder and CEO of Seven Falls, said: “Saudi Arabia is a great place for the gaming industry, as most of the residents of the country are gamers. There is a lot of support from the government for gaming, and sales and distribution of games is a testament to that.”
“The country is a good place for companies to come to set up shops here, find local talent, and train them.”
The entrepreneur also disclosed her company’s plan to expand into Saudi Arabia and hire local talent to begin operations in the Kingdom.
Mosaad Al-Dossary, CEO of Team Falcons, also expressed similar views about the potential of the gaming industry in the Kingdom and the enthusiasm of Saudi youth in the industry.
“The number of people who came to this forum from abroad is massive. We are leading the change, and I would love to have the Next World Forum in AlUla,” he said.
The Next World Forum saw an agreement signed between the Saudi Esports Federation, represented by CEO Turki Al-Fawzan, and the Qatar Esports Federation, represented by Secretary-General Faisal Al-Khalid.
Coda Payments, a leading provider of cross-border monetization solutions for mobile gaming and digital services, has partnered with Etihad Etisalat to enable users to purchase their favorite mobile gaming top-ups and vouchers using their mobile phone number.
The service; which is now live in the Kingdom, will provide Mobily customers with far greater convenience in how they pay for their mobile gaming needs.
The new payment option offers a seamless and secure way to pay for gaming top-ups and vouchers at Codashop using an existing phone bill.
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