Thursday, May 23, 2024

UAE Powering Gaming Boom in the Middle East


The gaming industry in the Middle East is experiencing a growth spurt, with Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) among the countries attracting major investments.

However, this digital revolution is not uniform across the region. While some nations have recognised the potential of gaming, Kuwait is yet to fully embrace this burgeoning market.

Middle East Embraces Regulations in the Booming Online Gaming Market

After establishing itself as a hotbed for online gaming growth, the Middle East is taking a proactive approach to regulation.

At the recent SiGMA Eurasia conference, a panel brought together industry leaders for a lively discussion on the evolving regulatory landscape and its impact on the gaming industry.

Jaguar Adva Gal, CEO of Jaguar Reg&Comp, moderated the discussion that featured experts such as Joseph F Borg, Lana Turbova, Tony Petrov and Sheikh Muhammad Noman.

Setting the tone, Borg advocated for a collaborative effort between regulators and gaming companies to establish a functional regulatory framework.

Turbova highlighted the need for regulations to align with Islamic principles while leveraging artificial intelligence technology for compliance.

Petrov, recognising the growing importance of responsible gaming, predicted stricter regulations in this area. Sheikh Muhammad Noman praised the UAE’s business-friendly environment and strong security, showcasing its appeal to gaming businesses.

The panel also stressed the importance of due diligence in verifying operator legitimacy and safeguarding vulnerable players. This emphasis on protection underscores the commitment to fostering a responsible gaming environment.

The panellists agreed that regulators play a critical role in establishing an ecosystem that fosters long-term success for the industry.

Their forward-thinking approach advocates for regulations that strike a balance between innovation and consumer protection.

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MENA Region Gamers Gear up For First-Ever EA Sports FC Ramadan Tournament

The holy month of Ramadan takes on a whole new dimension this year with the launch of the inaugural EA Sports FC Ramadan Tournament.

The event runs from March 18-29, offering a unique celebration for gamers across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Organised by Zawaya Gaming and fuelled by Pepsi, with the backing of the Saudi eSports Federation, the tournament boasts two parallel knockout brackets.

The first features the recently released EA Sports FC 24 on PlayStation 5, and another for the EA Sports FC Mobile. This ensures both console and mobile gamers have a chance to compete and showcase their skills.

Sixteen players will qualify to participate in the finals, where eight players will team up with athletes and creators for a two-versus-two tournament in both competitions.

Qualifiers for the console tournament are open to gamers in Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, while mobile competitors hail from an even wider range – Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and Indonesia.

The finalists will converge for a spectacular showdown at the SEF Arena in Riyadh.

Kuwait Stumbles as Flashier Neighbours Plough Forward

Kuwait’s Investment Authority (KIA), managing a staggering $700 billion sovereign wealth fund, is being eclipsed by its more ambitious neighbours.

The cracks in KIA’s facade are evident. Over the past year, senior leadership has experienced an exodus, with key division heads leaving and some positions remain unfilled. This loss of expertise weakens KIA’s ability to navigate the complex world of global investment.

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KIA’s investment activity pales in comparison to its regional peers. It invested a mere $2.8 billion compared to the staggering $25.9bn by Abu Dhabi and $20.7bn by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund in 2023. This decline underscores KIA’s dwindling presence on the global stage.

By contrast, the UAE is at the forefront of the digital gold rush currently sweeping through the Middle East thanks to their open-minded approach to gaming and investment.

This region boasts a young, tech-savvy population with a growing appetite for all things gaming. Flush with petrodollars, the UAE is using its wealth to invest heavily in the booming gaming industry.

This proactive approach stands in stark contrast to neighbouring Kuwait, where a more conservative stance risks leaving them behind in this lucrative digital race.

While Kuwait is not immune to the gaming craze, its reluctance to embrace gaming and the associated iGaming sector has hampered growth in the country.

Strict regulations and a lack of government support have stifled the development of a local gaming ecosystem. This has forced gamers to seek their thrills at online casinos in Kuwait which operate in a regulatory grey area.

Kuwait is yet to recognise that the online gaming industry fosters creativity, problem-solving skills and teamwork. It can also create new job opportunities, from game development and eSports athletes to content creators and streamers.

By embracing this industry, Kuwait could not only tap into a lucrative revenue stream but also nurture a vibrant digital economy and empower its youth.

While some cultural and religious concerns regarding online gaming are understandable, a measured approach can provide a solution.

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Kuwait can learn from its neighbours who are successfully regulating the industry while ensuring responsible gaming practices.

Stuart Wagner
Stuart Wagner
"Professional coffee fan. Total beer nerd. Hardcore reader. Alcohol fanatic. Evil twitter buff. Friendly tv scholar."

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