Gaming content creators get together for Dubai eSports and Games Festival

The festival returns for its third edition with bigger and better events, including the ultimate gaming event, the GameExpo


Husain Rizvi

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Published: Thu 2 May 2024, 10:49 PM

Every year, Dubai gets one step closer to establishing itself as a global hub for gaming. With consistent government initiatives, the city sees several gaming and eSports festivals across the year.

Now, running in its third edition, is the Dubai eSports and Games Festival. It's not just about games; it's about bringing people together who love gaming and new ideas. Running till May 5, all around Dubai, video game enthusiasts can see what's next in gaming, meet new friends, and enjoy the eSports scene.

This year's festival is the biggest one yet. There are many tournaments and things to do all over the city, from education challenges and career talks to workshops, and much more.

The ultimate gaming event, however, takes place from May 3 to 5 at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

At GameExpo, embark on a whirlwind journey through the gaming cosmos. It's a carnival of gaming delights, where players young and old can plunge headfirst into the world of competition. Prepare to be swept away on an epic quest through diverse zones like the Gamers District, The Future Zone, The Retro Zone, and more. Discover the latest gaming wonders, relive the magic of classic titles, and deck yourself out as your beloved gaming icons in the electrifying cosplay contests. And don't miss a beat as gaming legends clash in the epic showdowns of Play Beyond on May 4 and 5.

But fear not, for when hunger strikes, seek solace in the Food & Beverage zone, where a feast of delectable delights awaits to refuel your questing spirit.

The festival that was launched three years ago was a mandate by the Dubai government to give patronage to the gaming industry, said Muna Al Falasi, Director, eSports and Games Strategy. "It was done to position Dubai as a global gaming hub." And the accessibility to video games have only become easier, with games being available extensively on mobile devices as well as gaming consoles and PCs.

"Gaming has always added value to entertainment in our lives, but now, because of its availability on mobile phones, it has become more important and is booming a lot more than before," she added.

Muna Al Falasi, director, eSports and games strategy
Muna Al Falasi, director, eSports and games strategy

Muna further adds how these initiatives are aligned with the vision of Sheikh Hamdan, who launched the 'Dubai Program for Gaming 2023" last year. In light of this program, a new Gaming Visa is in works and will be announced soon, Muna said, "Gaming Visa will be issued to the gaming companies, we will try and facilitate their stay in this market, making things easy for them, which will in turn bring in investments into this sector of this region."

Another initiative as mentioned by Muna is to align themselves with global publishers behind successful gaming titles like Call of Duty and Fortnite. That said, visitors at GameExpo can try an exclusive Creative mode that features Dubai in the games mentioned above.

Basharkk, a UAE-based creator, has 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube
Basharkk, a UAE-based creator, has 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube

The UAE has seen a massive rise in gaming content creators. Several of the creators who will be present at the GameExpo shared their thoughts on the upcoming event after an exclusive preview. "This year's edition is way bigger than last year," said Basharkk, a UAE-based creator with 1.8 million subscribers on YouTube. "Dubai is really important for gaming and they've been doing events consistently since many years, with every year becoming better. I feel really lucky to be in Dubai as a gaming content creator."

Saqer Jassim Ahmed Abdulla Al Qassem, another gaming content creator on Instagram, focuses mostly on football games like EAFC 24 and eSports. "We are very happy to be here in Dubai, to see the amazing evolution of eSports in the country. It is only becoming bigger and better."

Games like Fortnite and Minecraft have a huge player base in the Middle East. One of the UAE-based content creators, Hamzawi regularly shares videos on Fortnite and Minecraft on his YouTube channel. He recently moved to Dubai and finds there are many opportunity for video gamers in the city. It is Hamzawi's first-time at the GameExpo and he's fascinated with how the city has advanced in terms of video games and eSports.

Sultan Khalifa MOhammed, UAE's sim-racing champion was also present at the GameExpo. Last year, he was ranked 21st in the world in sim-racing. His goal is to transition from sim-racing to real-life racing. "I want to be the first UAE national and the first Arab to transition from sim-racing to real-life racing."

UAE's sim-racing champion Sultan Khalifa Mohammed
UAE's sim-racing champion Sultan Khalifa Mohammed

Talking about the Dubai eSports and Gaming Festival, he said, "This year is much bigger, you could say they added steroids to make it better. It is a good thing in the UAE as we're all pushing towards making the country a global hub for gaming, especially after Sheikh Hamdan's announcement."

"We're on track for the next 5-10 years, after which if anyone mentions gaming, they will think of Dubai," he added.


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