Agreement between twofour54 and the Emirates Esports Association could signal a turning point in the regional race to dominate the sector.
THE GAMING AND esports industry is growing rapidly in the Gulf, and two major powers are looking to top the leaderboard in the region—Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
A new agreement signed between Abu Dhabi’s media free zone twofour54, and the Emirates Esports Association, which governs esports in the UAE, could signal a turning point in the race to nab a bigger share of the region’s estimated $821 million gaming market.
The deal, under which the EEA will set up its headquarters in twofour54’s Yas Creative Hub (set to open later this year), is designed to entice gaming and esports companies to set up shop in the UAE capital. In doing so, twofour54 aims to establish a close-knit esports and gaming ecosystem.
“The gaming and esports markets in the MENA region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world,” says James Hart, a director at twofour54. An ecosystem of gaming companies could open up employment opportunities for industry talent, adds Hart.
Through the new partnership, both parties think they can grow the UAE into a “world class hub for the global esports and gaming community,” according to EEA President Sheikh Sultan bin Khalifa. The GCC gaming market was worth $693 million back in 2017, but the rapid rise of young gamers in the Gulf have fueled the market to new heights. Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia have sought to translate that enthusiasm into real economic growth.
As a member of regional and international esports federations, the EEA says it can help twofour54 expand its regional reach, and attract tournaments and conferences to Abu Dhabi. It also plans to standardize industry regulations to help players, game developers, and event organizers.
The added benefit of working among the best in the industry can’t hurt either. The free zone says that industry titans like $34 billion gaming company Unity Technologies have already committed to setting up offices in twofour54.