Mubadala Investment Company and Abu Dhabi Gaming signed a preliminary agreement to develop an eSports ecosystem in Abu Dhabi in a bid to attract global talent and boost the local creative industry as part of its economic diversification agenda.
The deal will set a framework for both entities to explore opportunities for collaboration, help individuals and companies to come up with content for the industry, support events and create employment opportunities.
It aims to advance education in a number of fields including virtual reality, coding, design and development.
“As an active investor in innovation, we are always on the lookout for new opportunities," said Badr Al Olama, executive director for UAE investments at Mubadala, Abu Dhabi's strategic investment arm.
"E-sports and gaming have quickly emerged as an exciting sector and we look forward to developing opportunities related to it, and complementing our efforts in further diversifying the UAE’s economy."
The gaming industry has continued to thrive globally and is one of the sectors that is being prioritised in the UAE's 10-year National Strategy for the Cultural and Creative Industries.
The programme aims to put these sectors among the country's top 10 most important economic industries and increase their contribution to gross domestic product to 5 per cent. The Ministry of Culture and Youth also unveiled its blueprint for the strategy last week.
The global e-sports industry has been valued at $1.08 billion in 2021, an increase of about 50 per cent from last year, data from Statista shows.
Revenue is forecast to grow to as much as $1.62bn in 2024, with Asia and North America representing the largest markets in terms of revenue, and China alone accounting for about a fifth of the market.
Overall, the global games market is one of the fastest-growing sectors worldwide and is estimated to have a market value of $175.8bn in 2021, according to gaming market data platform Newzoo.
Driven by about three billion players, the industry will grow at a compound annual growth rate of 8.7 per cent to $218.7bn from 2019 to 2024, it said.
Global players from the Middle East and Africa make up 15 per cent of the total at 434 million, behind only the Asia-Pacific's 1.61 billion.
“The gaming and eSports markets in the Mena region are growing faster than anywhere else in the world and as the region's hub, Abu Dhabi is the ideal location for gaming and eSports businesses as we create an ecosystem with an abundance of employment opportunities for skilled gaming and e-sports industry talent,” said James Hartt, director of strategy and business development at AD Gaming.
Partnerships with entities such as Mubadala will "add incredible value to all stakeholders in the burgeoning gaming and eSports industry", he said.
AD Gaming was launched earlier in 2021 to support Abu Dhabi's drive to build a thriving gaming and e-sports ecosystem.
Supported by international and regional entities, including software company Unity Technologies, the initiative seeks to promote the growth of gaming companies of all sizes, from small and medium enterprises through to large multinationals.
Abu Dhabi has been investing in building a gaming ecosystem. Al Qana, a new waterfront destination, is building the emirate's largest e-sports and virtual reality gaming complex called Pixel, developer Al Barakah International Investment said.