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‘It’s not a matter of if but when’: Congress PCI discusses taking Arab games global

‘It’s not a matter of if but when’: Congress PCI discusses taking Arab games global
29 Apr 2024 11:56


At home, gaming lounges, or with friends sat around the majlis, video games have long been part of young people’s lives in the Middle East.

Traditionally, the Arab world has been one of the largest per capita consumers of video games; however, there is increasing momentum to see the region leapfrog into a producer as well.

This was the topic of discussion at the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries (Congress PCI) held in Abu Dhabi over the weekend, where a panel of industry experts from around the region weighed into how it could make its unique impact on the world of gaming.

“It’s not a matter of if, but when, we will see a worldwide hit come out of the region,” Fawzi Mesmar, VP Global Creative at Ubisoft, told the crowd at the Manarat Al Saadiyat.

“I think there are so many stories to tell, and so many talented people here, that it is undoubtable that we will see the region become a leader in the gaming industry.”

Best known for its Assassins Creed and Far Cry franchises, the industry giant opened its regional hub for games development in Abu Dhabi in 2011.

Today, it is part of a growing list of international names that have set up regional offices in the capital.

As part of the Abu Dhabi Gaming strategy, the city has long sought to attract global developers, through a mixture of world class infrastructure and strong incentives.

More recently, the city has also looked to make strides in the growing e-sports industry, revealing plans for a one-of-a-kind $280 million e-sport island, set to attract the best of global talent, whilst nurturing those at home.

At the PCI Congress on Sunday, the emphasis was all about how the region could use its high penetration of gamers to bring original concepts based on the lives, fables, and folklore of the area to life.

Indeed, according to a report by consulting firm BCG, almost 60 percent of people in the MENA region played games, with the region also exhibiting the largest growth in streaming audiences in 2023.

“There is so much potential here; we want to see young developers come out of the region with original content,” Fawzi said.

“There are a lot of incentives both here in the UAE and in KSA to see this happen, and I think it will.”

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