Dubai Esports and Games Festival kicks off with industry summit

Followed by a gaming expo for the public featuring tournament with influencers AboFlah and Miniminter

Dubai Esports and Games Festival 2023 in Expo City. Photo: Dubai Esports and Games Festival
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Dubai's annual gaming expo returns on Friday, offering visitors the chance to preview the latest titles and watch online gamers compete over three days.

Before that, however, the Dubai Esports and Games Festival kicks off on Wednesday with a two-day summit.

It will feature exhibitors from various technological sectors, showcasing the latest innovations in gaming at the Dubai Exhibition Centre in Expo City.

The festival’s director Muna Al Falasi tells The National: “The reason why we have launched the Dubai Esports and Gaming Festival is to position Dubai as a gaming hub in the region and to bring in investment from the international market.”

The festival aims to become a focal point for the convergence of gaming, esports and technology, in a region with an increasingly crowded gaming sector.

During the first two days of the event, more than 100 companies from around the world will take part in an industry summit, alongside local entities such as the Knowledge and Human Development Authority and Dubai Police.

Al Falasi says the gaming sector is becoming increasingly important to the region. “As we get deeper into the industry, we find out that gaming plays a big role when it comes to the economy.”

She says Dubai’s various entities are working together to position the city as a regional hub for gaming. “We want to find free zones to create an ecosystem and see what they can provide that will encourage and attract global companies to come.”

When asked about the biggest current trends in the gaming industry, Al Falasi says youth involvement is crucially important – as developers should represent those playing the games. “We see a lot of passion when it comes to the youth.”

She also points to growing integration of artificial intelligence and Web3.0 into game development. “We have seen that a lot of companies now started using that to develop their games,” she says.

From Friday, the festival will open to the public, with tickets starting from Dh15. The gaming expo portion will run for three days and includes an online gamers tournament, Minecraft Education Challenge as well as previews of new games.

Al Falasi says: “We are focusing more on regional tournaments, and very much into bringing in intellectual property for Dubai.”

The expo will feature zones catering to different demographics, including a Retro Zone, Discovery Zone, Tabletop Zone and Retail Zone. On Saturday and Sunday, the event will also host a gaming tournament, pitting online gamers influencers from the Middle East against those from Europe and the US.

British YouTuber Simon Minter, who goes by the online name Miniminter, will be leading the international team. On the other side, Kuwaiti youtuber Hassan Suleiman, who goes by the online moniker AboFlah, will lead the Middle East team.

The teams will be compete across different games, including Fall Guys, Fortnite, Rocket League, Fifa 23, Overcooked, Street Fighter 6 and Call of Duty.

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Updated: June 21, 2023, 7:04 AM