The worldwide gaming industry continues to register consistent growth year after year. With a total revenue of $164.6 billion in 2020 and an estimated $178.2 billion for 2021, there’s no sign of it slowing down. The Asia-Pacific region continues to be responsible for a huge chunk of the global market revenue and number of players, but Europe is no longer in second place, having risen to first after a long period.
The Middle East alone possesses the fastest-growing gaming market worldwide right now with Saudi Arabia and the UAE being the main forces in the region. Annual reports from the major betting operators in the region focusing on eSports revenue confirm the Middle East as a very attractive and lucrative market.
How Did Saudi Arabia Become The Gaming Center Of The Middle East?
The example set by Saudi Arabia is impressive both in terms of vision and implication. As the country seeks to reduce its economic dependency on oil, new industries are developed while others are transformed. Prince Faisal bin Bandar is the Saudi royal leading a full-blown “eSports revolution” in the Middle Eastern country. He’s set to transform the eSports and gaming industry into a revenue-generating machine and the results are already showing.
Saudi Arabia has one of the strongest gaming markets in the Middle East that is predicted to reach $946 million in 2021. The country has included eSports and mobile gaming in its Vision 2030 reform plan and the aim is for the gaming industry to account for 1% of the economy. Reaching that figure also means embracing female gamers that have traditionally been banned from big competitions and tournaments. The Saudi Arabian Federation for Electronic and Intellectual Sports (SAFEIS) has finally made it a priority to open eSports to both genders.
Prince Faisai bin Bandar runs both SAFEIS and the Arab eSports Federation and is determined to make Saudi Arabia a hub for eSports in the Middle East and the globe. B the looks of it, all the ingredients for a remarkable success story are already there. As he personally stated: “This is an industry that is supported from the leadership, right down to the youngest person in Saudi Arabia. I think you’ll see great things coming out of Saudi gaming in the next year.”
Why Saudi Arabia And The UAE Are The Next Frontiers Of Sports Betting
In most markets, spiking eSports activity has been closely tied with the growth of online sports betting. Even though the Middle East and betting/gambling don’t usually mix, eSports has the power to drive change in this sector as well. Saudi Arabia allowing women gamers to compete at tournaments is one clear example of how eSports can alter even the oldest conceptions and habits.
Also, William Hill is present in the Middle East since 2005 and there’s interest from 888 or bet365 to join the market as well. For the moment, the legal framework is not exactly friendly towards sports betting in Saudi Arabia or the UAE. However, plenty of players use VPN software to access international bookmakers and support their favorite gamers and teams. The above-mentioned are just a few out of the twenty betting apps available in Arabic.
The Gaming Industry In The Middle East
With the MENA region already fast approaching Europe as the second-most-important market in the gaming industry, it’s important to single out the main “culprits” for this remarkable progress. We’ve already singled out Saudi Arabia and the UAE. So, let’s take a closer look at all the Middle Eastern countries that help the region break record after record.
It’s hard to pinpoint the Middle East gaming industry leader when putting Saudi Arabia and the UAE head to head. Both countries are making remarkable progress in this area and the competition benefits everyone. The VR hub Pixel that’s going to open its doors in Al Qana, Abu Dhabi is definitely a gamechanger. Besides using the latest available technology, including VR to provide visitors with the best experience, this hub will host the first-ever certified eSports academy in the region.
Just like Saudi Arabia and the UAE, Egypt is also betting on eSports and gaming as a crucial economic booster in the future. The Egyptian Federation of eSports, run by Sherif Abdel-Baki, is making efforts to overcome the difficult conditions and promote eSports in the country. With several teams participating at the eSports World Championship in 2016, Egypt is definitely worth watching in the future.
The Future Of Gaming In Saudi Arabia And The Middle East
Nobody can deny that the Middle East has become an important player in the global gaming market. Through the efforts of Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Egypt, and other countries that promote eSports and mobile gaming, the region registers an amazing success. The opening of UAE’s eSports hub is definitely going to boost things even more and the possibilities are endless when it comes to sponsorships, collaboration, and the things that can be achieved.
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