Nine in ten adults play video games in the UAE, placing the country top of a new global survey.
The poll found 23 per cent were frequent gamers, meaning they play for at least 11 hours a week.
The Global Consumer Survey by Statista, a German database company, interviewed 45,650 people from 39 countries between April 2021 and March of this year to examine gaming habits among those above the age of 18.
Out of 1,012 Emiratis and residents who took part, 90 per cent said they were gamers. Seventy-three per cent said they played games on their mobile phones.
Other countries with a high number of adult gamers include China, with 87 per cent of 4,032 people enjoying the hobby.
In the US, 77 per cent of 7,608 respondents said they played games.
Statista said countries with younger populations, such as the UAE, were found to be home to more gamers.
“According to the Statista Global Consumer Survey, the United Arab Emirates was the country with the highest number of adult gamers in 2022,” said Statista on its website.
“Countries in the developing world — aided by their younger demographics — produced more gamers.
“Nigeria and Indonesia, as well as China and Egypt reported the highest numbers of adults saying they played video games in the survey of around 40 countries.”
Game on for UAE
Over the years, the gaming culture in the UAE has become increasingly popular, with several e-sports events taking place in the country.
Some have turned the hobby into a career but the majority of the population play for fun.
Omar Alali, 40, is an Emirati content creator who plays video games for one to three hours daily. He was a professional player in his 20s and used to compete in tournaments.
“I have been gaming for more than 30 years. My earliest memories are Pac-Man and Jungle Hunt on Atari,” he said.
“I grew up trying all type of games, but fantasy role-playing games became my favourite, as I enjoy storytelling and customisation the most, followed by horror and fighting games due to [their] competitive and exciting nature.
“I think the results of the survey show that there is a huge interest in futuristic technology and creativity in the UAE.”
While many people enjoy gaming, several professionals in the industry have also sounded the alarm on gaming addiction.
Mr Alali said he has lost friends because of it.
“I have seen people get lost inside video games, even addicted to it, and it is easy to blame video games as a scapegoat without admitting the problem's source, which is usually depression and/or lack of recognition or attention.
“Video games are made for entertainment and, like anything in life, not an escape from realities and responsibilities. If video games weren't there, they might have fallen into harsher habits.”
Hamad Ibrahim, 28, is an Emirati aircraft technician who said he has been gaming for about 20 years.
He mostly plays League of Legends, an online multiplayer battle arena video game.
“I keep on gaming as it is enjoyable, especially the challenges some games provide and the glory of victory and success.
“It is also great to escape reality sometimes. Sometimes, there is nothing to do after work.”
He said he limits how much he plays and only goes to gaming cafes a few times each month.