Esports appears to be growing rapidly in the Middle East, with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) constructing the region’s first dedicated esports venue.
Set to be located in the kingdom’s capital, Dubai, the Dubai Media Office (DMO) and the domestic investment agency TECOM Group unveiled their rough outline of the venue, dubbed the Dubai X-Stadium. With the ambition of hosting world-class esports events and making the kingdom a global esports hub, the goals behind Dubai X-Stadium appears to be, like the rest of the hyper-modern capital, super-sized.
The initiative between DMO and the TECOM Group was officially endorsed by the kingdom’s crown prince Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, who oversees the UAE’s Dubai Future Foundation. The foundation was created in 2010 by the crown prince, as a means of keeping the Middle-Eastern kingdom at the forefront of technology and investment within the region.
“We are living in a world where digital culture is reshaping all aspects of life, including sports,” the Dubai Media Office director Mona Ghanem Al Marri wrote in a press release on April 15. While the predominant popularity of esports is still U.S.-based, gaming and esports appear to be quickly gaining ground in the Middle East. In the past year, two Middle Eastern kingdoms (Saudi Arabia and Jordan) have created dedicated esports associations that aim to foster and develop regional talent. Additionally, the UAE’s Royal Emirates Sports academy officially entered the esports industry on Jan. 18 to facilitate the growing interest in competitive gaming.
The Dubai X-Stadium, however, seems to put the UAE at the forefront of developing esports within the Middle East. With the seemingly ever-growing popularity of esports, competitive gaming will now also be used as a means to drive more tourism to the kingdom—as well as cement its place as one of the key digital economies of the world.