Qiddiya has partnered with the Saudi Esports Federation for the Gamers8 Festival ©Gamers8/Saudi Esports Federation

Entertainment megaproject Qiddiya has been named as a partner of the Saudi Esports Federation (SEF) for the second edition of the Gamers8 Festival in Riyadh.

The Festival is due to begin on Thursday (July 6) and run until August 27, offering a $45 million (£35.5 million/€41.2 million) prize pool.

Construction on Qiddiya began in 2019, and when completed is expected to include resorts, parks and a city centre.

During the Gamers8 Festival, Qiddiya is due to provide "exciting purpose-built immersive and interactive experiences".

SEF chief executive Turki Al-Fawzan welcomed the partnership.

"The new entertainment landmark is sure to play a starring role in the sustained rise of gaming and esports across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in the years ahead," he said.

"Given our shared vision for growing this increasingly vibrant and influential sector and providing new opportunities to all, we have absolute confidence that our partnership will be a resounding success and one that ensures the second edition of Gamers8 leaves behind a lasting legacy."

Saudi Arabia's increasing influence in esports has mirrored its rise as a destination for sports events such as the 2034 Asian Games and 2029 Asian Winter Games.

Critics view this as an attempt to sportswash the Mohammed bin Salman regime's record on human rights.

Homosexuality and same-sex marriage are both outlawed according to Saudi Arabia's uncodified Islamic law, its record on women's rights continues to be heavily criticised despite some recent reforms, and the Saudi leadership's role in the bombing of Yemen and use of the death penalty are among the other concerns.