Online games no longer pipe dream

Market share in the Middle East may be up for grabs as local companies are catering to the home-grown market.

Gamers across the Gulf are logging on to a range of home-grown websites offering digital versions of Arab pastimes old and new. Middle East life has moved online at great pace in the past decade, with a surge in websites catering to Arabic political discussion, religious debate and social networking. But a number of regional internet start-ups say the gaming business will be the next to mushroom in a trend that could threaten the market share of more established global rivals.

From traditional card games played over shisha and strong coffee, to virtual high-speed driving through the highways of Dubai, regional online game developers say business is booming. Jawaker, a Jordanian company that offers an online version of tarneeb, a bridge-like card game that is a fixture in cafes from Rabat to Ras al Khaimah, now has 350,000 registered users, 40,000 of whom visit the site every day. More than 25,000 new users register every month, with the company hiring three Web developers to keep pace with booming demand.

"The growth we are experiencing is really amazing, beyond our expectations," said Mohamed Haj Hasan, the co-founder of Jawaker. "Right now we are just pouring all our efforts into the technology and the back-end to handle the demand, so we really haven't had the time to develop the commercial product." Mr Hasan said the company planned to build an in-game advertising platform that placed advertisements on the back of cards, or on the virtual playing table. He also hopes a percentage of the users will pay for premium services to be added to the game, and to earn revenues from sponsored tournaments.

Quirkat, another Jordanian start-up, recently launched an Arabic interpretation of the international hit game Guitar Hero. Al-Moosiqar ("The Musician") challenges online players to perform renditions of classical Arabic music on a virtual oud, the predecessor to the modern guitar. Since its launch last September, the game has been played more than 10,000 times. Mahmoud Ali Khasawneh, the founder of Quirkat, said that while the total audience size for the game was relatively small, interest had grown rapidly.

"This is probably one of the least served markets in the online world and very few people are making a serious effort to develop original Arabic games that are truly from the region," he said. "Right now almost everything is imported, so we are making a stand for locally developed intellectual property." Tahadi, a game developer based in Dubai, is also seeing its user base boom. In the three months since the company launched an Arabic-language version of Ragnarok, a multiplayer online role-playing game originally developed in South Korea, it said more than 80,000 gamers had signed up. By the end of March, the company will release a localised version of the driving game Krazy Kart, set on the streets of Dubai.

Like other regional game developers, Tahadi hopes to earn a significant income stream from selling services to game players and displaying advertisements within the game. In the coming month, it will announce an in-game partnership with a major global brand, and more deals are in the pipeline. "We see huge opportunities everywhere we look," said Steve Tsao, the Tahadi chief executive. @Email:tgara@thenational.ae

War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
War and the virus
PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

PROFILE OF SWVL

Started: April 2017

Founders: Mostafa Kandil, Ahmed Sabbah and Mahmoud Nouh

Based: Cairo, Egypt

Sector: transport

Size: 450+ employees

Investment: approximately $80 million

Investors include: Dubai’s Beco Capital, US’s Endeavor Catalyst, China’s MSA, Egypt’s Sawari Ventures, Sweden’s Vostok New Ventures, Property Finder CEO Michael Lahyani

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Brief scores:

Toss: Sindhis, elected to field first

Pakhtoons 137-6 (10 ov)

Fletcher 68 not out; Cutting 2-14

Sindhis 129-8 (10 ov)

Perera 47; Sohail 2-18

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km

Specs

Price, base: Dhs850,000
Engine: 3.9-litre twin-turbo V8
Transmission: Seven-speed automatic
Power: 591bhp @ 7,500rpm
Torque: 760Nm @ 3,000rpm
Fuel economy, combined: 11.3L / 100km