Dubai to get the Middle East’s first online gaming stadium

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The global gaming market is valued at $99.6 billion in 2016.

Dubai is set to get a brand new sports stadium, but this one won’t host your usual cricket or football matches. Instead, it will become the region’s very first stadium dedicated to all things eSports.

With the global gaming market pitted at $99.6 billion in 2016, Dubai is on a mission to become the world leader in competitive video gaming with the launch of Dubai X-Stadium.

Though details of the purpose-built stadium, including location and opening date, have not yet been revealed, its hosting capabilities will pit Dubai as a centrepiece for hosting international eSports events.

The announcement was made on the Dubai Media Office’s Twitter page on Saturday evening via video, and will be launched in partnership with the Tecom Group Dubai.

A staggering 18 per cent of the entire Mena population are noted as gamers, so this new platform will not only bring with it job creation, but increased revenue from a new category of tourists – the eGamers.

Industry experts forecast that by 2020 the eSports fan base will reach 600 million, so to organise grand scale events carrying the Dubai name will be a direct line to this growing audience.

Speaking about the launch, Mona Al Marri, Director General, Dubai Media Office said. “We are living in a world where digital culture is reshaping all aspects of life, including sports. This has led us to develop the concept of Dubai X-Stadium, which will consolidate Dubai’s status as a key digital economy hub.

The idea aims at offering gamers and spectators unique online and in-person experiences.

Gaming community reacts

Gaming enthusiasts across the city have welcomed the Dubai X-Stadium announcement with open arms.

Avid gamer Bradley Ismail told Khaleej Times the stadium will help put the UAE “on the map” in terms of international e-Sports.

“I’m really excited to see what this project will bring about. Having a dedicated space for eSports is a huge step to getting big name companies to host events here. My main hope for this venture is that it will attract major eSports leagues too like Riots “LCS” or Blizzards “OWL” to open Mena branches. I’m excited to see the region grow as far as gaming is concerned.”

As for his hopes, Ismail said he’d love to see “more servers in the Middle East giving players here a better playing experience”, as low server latency is imperative to high-level game play.

For gaming enthusiast Marwan Hammad, Dubai X-Stadium is a great opportunity for Dubai – and for him personally too.

Calling it a “step in the right direction”, he said it will increase e-sports activity by attracting many online major tournaments to be hosted in Dubai.

“I’d like to see more large tournaments being hosted by major international organisations so as to create a competitive environment for gamers in the Middle East.

There have been many instances in the past where I wished to compete in LAN tournaments hosted in Europe but was unable to due to issues relating to time and money, so hopefully the launch of Dubai X-Stadium will fix these setbacks for me and many other gamers with similar ambitions.”

And it’s music to Habib Chams, Founder & Manager of DGC Games Dubai’s ears. He has been pushing for the spotlight to be put on the gaming industry for two years now.

“This is a great move and is public oriented too. I have no doubt it will bring high gaming companies and competitors to UAE. We want to see the growth of Dubai’s gaming eco-system and with the introduction of this we are definitely on the right path,” he told Dubai Standard News