MENA region’s expanding gaming ecosystem


Gamers have mushroomed all over the world – or so it seems – especially amid the pandemic when many of us were looking to pass the time and stay entertained. In fact, a Statista Global Consumer Survey conducted in the United States with 4,169 respondents revealed that per week, 26% play video games for 1 to 5 hours while 19% spend an average of 6 to 10 hours.

Studies also show that the MENA region has a very active gaming community with one of the fastest growing markets in the world. A white paper from leading internet company Tencent and Pubg Mobile reported that the MENA gaming market will be worth some US $6 billion by 2021, up from US $4.8 billion in 2019.

With companies in the region understanding the need to meet the growing demand, Zain Group has launched the ‘Zain esports’ brand, initiating the beginning of a year-long program of large and exciting regional online esports tournaments. The leading telecom innovator across the Middle East and Africa will launch tournaments which comprise multiple flagship events as well as smaller, regular community tournaments with attractive cash and device prize pools.

How is Zain esports planning to identify and promote local talent? By creating a competition to select commentators for Arabic commentary and creating the right environment for esports content in order to generate popular YouTubers.

Furthermore, Zain esports will support and use local social media influencers to promote leagues among local gamers.

Malek Hammoud, Zain Group Chief Investment and Digital Officer said, “Zain esports marks a phenomenal opportunity for us to drive the business in new areas, while delighting our customers, especially the youth. The global pandemic has changed life as we know it and has created further demand for online connectivity and access to digital content.”

According to a report by YouGov that surveyed 24 markets including the UAE and KSA, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is a fast-growing gaming market that progressed from casual gaming to virtual reality games and competitive sports. “With a growing community of active gamers and high internet penetration, the gaming and esports industry in the MENA region is likely to witness a boom in the future.”

The report also highlighted that the UAE and KSA rank among the top 10 global markets, which presents a wealth of opportunity for the industry namely, game design companies and console manufacturers.

Global Sector Head of Esports and Gaming at YouGov Nicole Pike said, “This year highlighted just how quickly things can change in the gaming ecosystem, making it difficult for advertisers and sponsors to know if, when and how to spend wisely – and for gaming companies to determine how much more growth is on the horizon.”

The growing number of MENA gaming enthusiasts are in need of a diverse ecosystem of entertainment and competition, which is prompting companies to tap into a multitude of opportunities. Thus, it is understandable why the sector is experiencing 25 percent annual growth.