UAE and Saudi Arabia sign deal to create electronic games that 'tell inspiring stories'
Starting with an adaptation of popular Emirati TV series 'Freej', the deal will take regional games to a global audience
The UAE’s creative landscape has been given a further boost thanks to a new partnership with Saudi Arabia that will produce a new generation of electronic games.
The Saudi venture Boss Bunny Games, with headquarters in the UAE, has signed an agreement with Emirati production studio Lammtara to develop and publish a number of new games, starting with the popular series Freej, which features a number of Emirati characters.
The deal will help strengthen the digital technologies sector in the Gulf, and it is hoped it will help establish the Middle East as a front-runner in developing digital games for a global audience.
The announcement was made in the presence of Noura Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, and Sheikh Shakhbout bin Nahyan, the UAE's ambassador to Saudi Arabia.
“Electronic games have become one of the most rapidly emerging creative industries and contribute to massive investments which lead to great economic development for countries," said Al Kaabi.
"Both the UAE and Saudi Arabia possess young creative talents and great capabilities in the electronic games industry, and with such developments, these will further expand the region’s reach and positive influence."
The minister added that the deal would help attract the best talent to the UAE. “We welcome this partnership as it offers strong prospects to empower university talent and groom them in the field of innovation, production and design to become future entrepreneurs. Our dream is to see them propagate local culture and heritage to an international audience," she said.
Sheikh Shakhbout said the deal was made possible thanks to a common interest in growing the creative and gaming industries. “The ongoing partnership and development between Saudi Arabia and the UAE represent the most prominent model of brotherhood and strategic partnership,” he said.
According to recent studies, the Middle East and North Africa region is home to the most active gaming community in the world, with a year-on-year growth rate of 25 per cent. The size of the games market in the Mena region is forecast to triple by 2022 to reach $4.4 billion. Some 30 per cent of the population in the GCC play digital games, with those between the ages of 18 and 24 spending an average of eight hours a week on consoles.
Aziza Al-Ahmadi, chair of the board of directors and founder of Boss Bunny Games, said the deal was a “major turning point” for the gaming industry both regionally and globally.
Lammtara’s chief executive, founder and creator of Freej, Mohammed Saeed Hareb, said he hopes to “tell inspiring, magical stories” through the games created, “with class-leading production values and intuitive designs".
“We are delighted ... to take our popular Emirati characters and heritage to a larger audience globally through games on smart devices. I am sure this partnership will bring a lot to the entertainment world in the region, as well as globally,” he said.
Updated: November 23, 2020 06:08 PM