Dubai Cultivates Competitive Advantage as Gaming and Esports Hub

Major players in the gaming sector are seizing the opportunity as they flock to Dubai, now a pivotal force in the industry within the region. This shift is attributed to the city’s vibrant business landscape, investor-friendly policies, and remarkable digital involvement. The DMCC Gaming Centre stands as a hospitable platform, attracting gaming companies from both nearby and distant locations.

Enthusiasts of gaming and esports can anticipate an abundance of opportunities, given the substantial interest from international industry leaders looking to harness the escalating enthusiasm and build on the triumph of previous events hosted in Dubai.

Embracing the unexplored possibilities within burgeoning sectors, businesses, and technological advancements, Dubai stands out as a proactive force, driven by a keen enthusiasm for novel economic frontiers and forward-thinking policies. This dynamic spirit undoubtedly positions Dubai as a key global hub for the gaming industry in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Projections indicate that the industry’s revenues in the region are expected to surpass $5 billion by the upcoming year.

The previous year’s hosting of the Dubai Esports and Games Festival’s second edition emphatically reinforced Dubai’s commitment to establishing itself as a prominent player in the gaming arena. There is significant excitement surrounding the forthcoming edition and what it has in store. The event garnered international attention with a thrilling five-day schedule, making a substantial impact. The GameExpo Summit, a highlight of the festival, attracted over 1,800 industry experts from across the globe to Dubai, fostering the exchange of insights and ideas about the industry’s promising future.

The event achieved resounding success with the launch of new games, captivating exhibits, and a range of zones designed to accommodate various skill levels. Enthusiastic participation was observed in regional and school tournaments, while over 26,000 visitors were captivated by immersive adventures, satisfying their appetite for interactive experiences.

Over 75,000 elite gamers, both local and global, engaged in a multitude of esports tournaments and games, capturing the attention of the international industry. The introduction of the Play Beyond influencer tournament, showcasing AboFlah, Miniminter, Granthinds, Demisux, Basharkk, Saeed Wolf, Bashayer, and Jukeyz, added an unforgettable touch to the event.

Dubai’s dedication to advancing the gaming industry is vividly demonstrated through the establishment of the DMCC Gaming Centre in 2022 by the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), renowned as the world’s most interconnected free zone for commodities trade and enterprise. This state-of-the-art facility serves as an unparalleled hub for gaming industry professionals to connect, collaborate, and explore emerging opportunities. Providing easy access to global capital, top-tier industry talent, and a specialized ecosystem, the center empowers companies to operate with efficiency and confidence.

Facilitating a seamless and fully digital setup process, the DMCC Centre streamlines the path for companies seeking global expansion and the opportunity to engage with diverse audiences.

Empowering Infrastructure

The DMCC Gaming Centre serves as a central hub for approximately 100 gaming companies within the free zone, encompassing developers, publishers, esports teams, and tournament organizers. Positioned at the nexus of the and web3 realms, the center not only facilitates opportunities for monetization but also provides access to liquidity. Together with its counterpart, the DMCC Crypto Centre, this ecosystem equips businesses with everything essential for flourishing, promoting connections among companies, creatives, developers, and gamers. The center prioritizes high-quality infrastructure and connectivity, reflecting the understanding that business in Dubai extends beyond transactions to embrace a spirit of community.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of DMCC, remarked, “Gaming stands out as one of the world’s most rapidly expanding industries, engaging almost 3.2 billion individuals who collectively invested a total of $196.8 billion in 2022.”

“The current magnitude and expansion of the gaming industry are remarkable compared to its humble beginnings in the 1970s when video games first emerged. These dedicated communities consistently seek enhanced immersion and storytelling in their preferred form of entertainment. With our gaming company portfolio growing rapidly and an increasing number of our DMCC Crypto Centre members venturing into blockchain gaming, the DMCC Centre is poised to establish Dubai as a definitive global hub for all facets of gaming and esports,” he further stated.

Thriving Market

Anticipated figures project the gamer population in the MENA region to reach approximately 88 million by 2026, a significant rise from the 67.4 million recorded in 2022. Various reports highlight the MENA region as a leading force in the gaming market, boasting an impressive annual growth rate of 25 percent. This surge surpasses that of China, which stands at around 8 percent.

Mobile gaming accounts for nearly 65 percent of all gaming activity in the MENA region, with approximately 60 percent of the Middle Eastern population identifying as gaming enthusiasts. A noteworthy statistic reveals that 50 percent of all apps downloaded in the region are games, surpassing the global average of 40 percent.

The esports sector is currently experiencing a surge, with a substantial 68 percent of the online population actively engaging with gaming-related content, and at least 10 percent expressing a dedicated interest in esports. The esports fanbase surpasses viewership for traditional sports leagues like the NBA in many parts of the world, and the global number of esports enthusiasts is projected to reach 856 million by 2028.

DMCC’s research reinforces its strategic emphasis on infrastructure and connectivity. Insights from the Centre’s studies reveal that eight out of 10 Gen Zs and millennials are deeply involved in gaming, with individuals aged 25 to 40 allocating up to seven hours weekly to their favorite pastime.

In the MENA region, gaming revenues are anticipated to nearly double by 2027 compared to 2021, reaching $6 billion, as indicated by DMCC’s latest Future of Trade 2023 report titled ‘Gaming in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA): Geared for Growth.’

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