Esports in the UAE
Youth in the UAE and US share a passion for gaming and the growing world of competitive esports. To harness the energy and creativity of the gaming community, and increase cultural understanding, the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC and Monumental Sports & Entertainment (MSE) launched an innovative partnership to connect gaming enthusiasts from the US, UAE and around the globe. As part of this new program, the Embassy & MSE plan to host an in-person NHL 20 tournament along with an NBA 2K clinic in Washington, DC.
As a leader in the esports space, Monumental is a natural partner for the UAE, which is fast becoming a hub for esports in the Middle East and beyond. Nearly two-thirds of the region’s population is under 30, and with 25 percent annual growth, the region has the world’s fastest growing online gaming community. Recent estimates value the MENA gaming industry at $4.4 billion by 2022.
In February 2020, the UAE hosted the GIRLGAMER World Finals, the world’s largest women’s esports festival. Top gamers from around the world, including the UAE and US, competed in League of Legends and Counter-Strike: Global Offensive. The festival also included a gaming tournament for local schools, educational seminars, an esports business conference and a “careers alley” for those passionate about game development and coding.
In October 2019, the UK’s world-famous Insomnia gaming festival was held in the Middle East for the first time, giving gamers in the UAE a chance to compete in tournaments, enjoy DJ sets, and dabble in VR gaming. As a special addition to the annual Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Yas Marina in Abu Dhabi hosted the grand finale of the first Formula 1 esports championship in 2017.
Recognizing the potential of gaming and competitive esports to bridge continents and connect cultures, the UAE announced the construction of Dubai X-Stadium in 2018. Once completed, the state-of-the-art facility will be the Middle East’s first dedicated esports stadium, establishing the UAE as a destination for more top gaming events.