Financial terms of this expansion into esports were not disclosed.
As part of the new deal, NEOM becomes the “official principal partner” of the McLaren Shadow F1 esports team. Further, NEOM and McLaren Shadow will collaborate “on developing talent pathways in Saudi Arabia from grassroots through to high-performance sim racing, including opportunities to train in the McLaren Shadow Academy” [in Surrey], according to a release.
“It’s great to re-launch the team with this new look and feel. I can’t think of a better way of doing it than with our new Official Principal Partner NEOM and our strong line-up of Lucas, Wilson, and Dani,” Neil Walker, head of esports and gaming at McLaren Racing, said in a release.
“The team are pleased to welcome NEOM to McLaren Shadow, building on their successful partnership with our NEOM McLaren Electric Racing teams in Formula E and Extreme E. We look forward to the collaboration to come, with a focus on developing grassroots talent in the sport. This is incredibly important to the team and wider McLaren Racing family. Supporting the talent of tomorrow is a key aim of our talent pathways, of which our own Wilson Hughes is a key example.”
NEOM first partnered with McLaren Racing in 2022, when it became the title partner of McLaren’s Formula E and Extreme E Teams.
NEOM is funded by the Saudi Arabian government’s sovereign wealth fund, the PIF. The PIF also owns Savvy Games Group, which in turn owns tournament operator ESL FACEIT Group, Esports Engine, DreamHack, and Vindex. The government also owns another city entertainment project called Qiddiya and the Esports World Cup Foundation, which announced plans for a major multi-title, multi-week esports and gaming festival, the Esports World Cup, next summer in Riyadh. That gaming festival is better known as Gamers8.
Esports and sports companies have become more comfortable being involved with Saudi government owned properties such as NEOM and Qiddiya in recent years, but in the summer of 2020, many including BLAST and Riot Games’ League of Legends EMEA Championship (LEC) walked away from multi-million dollar deals after public backlash.