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UAE expats catch Esports fever

We have a lot of players here with a lot of talent that are lacking support, but this support is now coming.

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Boss Bunny Games develops a game that reflects the culture and tradition in the Gulf region. / KARIM SAHIB/agence france-presse

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AFP) — From a brand new facility in Dubai, young gamers are hosting virtual regional Esports competitions sponsored by global brands as they shoot to become major players in the multi-billion-dollar industry.

Indian expat Saad Khan said he realized there was “huge opportunity” in promoting Esports in the region four years ago when he saw people crowding into rapidly sprouting cyber cafes in Dubai, one of the seven emirates of the United Arab Emirates.

That’s when Khan, who has a strong background in technology, decided to found Gamers Hub Media Events (GHME) to host Esports tournaments in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We’re here for the gamers, we are here for our sponsors, and we are here to give the best experience possible,” the 45-year-old Khan, the chief executive officer of the company, said.
In an effort to diversify its

oil-dependent economy and boost its soft power, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and its legion of young expats have in recent years jumped into a range of sectors, including sports and technology.

The global games and interactive media industry grew 12 percent to $139.9 billion last year, according to US-based data analytics company Nielsen.

Meanwhile in the Gulf, the gaming market is expected to reach $821 million this year, with the UAE and Saudi Arabia the biggest players, according to consulting firm Strategy&.

“There is a huge sponsorship value that has increased the number of gamers has increased, and I’m also seeing a lot of teams being formed, which was not happening before,” said Khan, who declined to disclose GHME’s profits.

The company has partnerships with Intel, Dell Alienware, Lenovo Legion and Omen by HP, and last year it landed a deal with German luxury automaker BMW, which sponsors gaming tournaments in the region.

And GHME is set to expand its reach further, opening offices in Spain, India, and South Africa.

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