Saudi Arabia launches $1.1bn-backed Ignite to boost entertainment and digital media

Riyadh also announced a partnership with Trend Micro, which will open its regional headquarters and a data-security lake in the kingdom

Mohammed Al Robayan, secretary general of Saudi Arabia's Digital Content Council, announces the new programme Ignite. Photo: Leap
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Saudi Arabia announced a new $1.1 billion-backed initiative to boost digital content and transform the kingdom into a leading digital entertainment and media production hub.

The new initiative, called Ignite, was announced by Saudi Arabia’s Digital Content Council on Wednesday as part of the three-day technology conference Leap in Riyadh, which runs until Thursday.

The programme aims to create a “comprehensive ecosystem” to attract digital content companies and grow the local media and content creation sector.

“Ignite aims to triple Saudi Arabia’s digital content market size in gaming, audio, video and advertising,” the council said in a statement.

The plan includes incentives such as financial support for local, regional and international companies and start-ups; infrastructure development; talent development programmes; and improved policy and regulations to enable the sector to grow rapidly.

It intends to upskill more than 4,400 people in the next three years in the sectors of gaming, films and digital advertising, the council said.

The kingdom is going big on gaming. Gaming consumption in Saudi Arabia, the Arab world's largest economy, is expected to reach $6.8bn by 2030, a recent report by Boston Consulting Group said.

Along with eSports, the sector — a growing powerhouse with about three billion active participants globally — is poised to generate substantial revenue, high-quality jobs and various reputational benefits in the kingdom, where consumption is expected to grow at a compound annual rate of 22 per cent through 2030 from $959 million in 2020, the consultancy said.

Last month, Saudi Arabia’s sovereign wealth fund, the Public Investment Fund, launched a new gaming company to strengthen its position in the fast-growing gaming and eSports industry.

The Ignite programme will supplement the film fund that will be allocated for the infrastructure, development, production and distribution of locally produced movies, and another fund which will focus on gaming to develop games and build the required infrastructure such as game studios.

“To further attract local and international partners to Ignite, Saudi Arabia will also enhance intellectual property protection measures,” the council said.

Saudi Arabia approved the establishment of the Digital Content Council in September to boost the digital content market, enhancing its contribution to the domestic product and providing quality jobs.

In addition, the kingdom also announced its partnership with the American-Japanese cybersecurity company Trend Micro during the Leap conference.

Under the agreement, the California-based technology firm will open its Middle East and North Africa headquarters in Riyadh, launch a security data lake and make other investments in the kingdom totalling more than $50m.

Its software-as-a-service data lake will offer cloud, security and network security as well as extended detection and response solutions that will all be provided locally.

A security data lake is a centralised repository aimed at maintaining and managing all log or other data sources relevant to an organisation’s security posture. It provides a single place for security data to be housed, analysed, searched and utilised.

Trend Micros will also establish of a centre of excellence for cybersecurity expert advisory resources in the kingdom.

Saudi Arabia also launched Wi-Fi 6E technology to support the next-generation connectivity and communications infrastructure. It will allow the country to benefit from the fastest achievable Wi-Fi speeds globally (2.4 Gbps).

Enabling this advanced connectivity is expected to quadruple Wi-Fi’s overall contribution to Saudi Arabia’s economy, reaching $18bn by 2030, from $4.7bn last year, official data show.

At Leap on Tuesday, the kingdom unveiled more than $6.4bn worth of investments in future technologies and entrepreneurship to accelerate the country’s digital transformation and boost its digital economy.

Updated: February 03, 2022, 4:01 AM