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Gamers Without Borders makes Saudi Arabia as a key player in global gaming
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 15 - 06 - 2020

RIYADH — COVID-19 esports fundraiser Gamers Without Borders worth $10 million has helped solidify Saudi Arabia's standing as a key player in the global gaming community, says the Kingdom's leading authority on esports.
Held over seven-weeks, Gamers Without Borders became the biggest ever event of its kind when it united more than 300,000 gamers from 82 countries — including the world's best elite players and a host of superstars from sports and entertainment — on many of the most popular online multi-platform titles, including Fortnite, FIFA20 and Call of Duty.
Between them, quarantined gamers played over 200,000 competitive matches, while GWB's charity prize fund International Elite tournaments drew a global streaming audience of 15 million people — and saw $10million donated to seven organizations leading the world's fight against the spread of coronavirus.
This was organizer SAFEIS' — the Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports — the biggest event to date and preceded the federation's sponsorship of the Virtual Le Mans 24 race held last weekend.
Prince Faisal Bin Bandar Bin Sultan, the chairman of SAFEIS, Gamers Without Borders will have a long-lasting and considerable impact on the Kingdom's status as an esports hub going forward.
He said: "Gamers Without Borders was so special in how it brought together millions of gamers across geographies with two shared passions: one for gaming, and one for contributing to a truly global issue. We united a genuine community to support in what continues to be a real crisis.
"With such a young population and clear, government-backed ambitions under the remit of Saudi Vision 2030, the Kingdom was and remains uniquely positioned to be able to take the lead on esports events on the scale of Gamers Without Borders, and it is our pleasure to do so. To be able to orchestrate Gamers Without Borders at the speed and size that we did paid testament to the passion we have for gaming here in the Kingdom, and our ability to work well with our many partner agencies around the world.
"It was a great honor to handover $10million to our seven partner charities, to bring so many gamers together, and to be a force for positivity amid these turbulent times. We now look forward to growing our standing within global gaming, even more, going forward."
Gamers Without Borders saw $10million donated to seven global charities tackling COVID-19: GAVI, UNICEF, Direct Relief, International Medical Corps, King Salman Humanitarian Aid and Relief Center (KSRELIEF), Norwegian Refugee Council and the International Telecommunications Union.
Gary Stahl is head of partnerships at UNICEF. He explained exactly how the $3.95million the charity received from the tournament will be used to help in the battle against coronavirus.
He said: "We're really excited to have been working with Gamers Without Borders. This young age group — where the gamers are — is a new demographic for us, so we're really happy that we've been able to collaborate.
"What we're doing right now is buying massive amounts of protective gear and equipment, and we're working with countries around the world to make sure their healthcare staff actually have that protective gear so they don't get sick and can continue to treat everyone.
"We're working to make sure children who depend on school lunches have access to school lunches despite not having access to school. We're working to make sure routine vaccination continues, because in some countries routine vaccinations have stopped, so we could see as many as 6,000 children a day start dying from preventable causes because regular healthcare system are on a pause while we deal with COVID-19."
Olly Cann is Director of Communications at Gavi. He said: "Thanks to the gaming community for this remarkable initiative — we're so grateful because every little helps. Every dollar makes a real impact on a child somewhere around the world.
"We are overwhelmed and overjoyed by such a phenomenal response. To have people aware of what we do is really heartening. There's a huge psychological impact on our moral as an organization. It's great that the gaming community knows about us and it really lifts us to know that there are people out there cheering us on."
The Gamers Without Borders International Elite tournaments were supported throughout by the world's largest esports company, ESL. They saw the world's best gamers from 56 different countries take part, and also hosted superstar names including Dele Alli, Paulo Dybala, Trent Alexander-Arnold, João Félix, Andre Silva, Liam Payne and Snoop Dogg.


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