Dubai will host the World Finals of the third annual GIRLGAMER Esports Festival – the world’s most recognised female-focused esports competition – this December 2019.
Meydan One, a pioneering, next-generation lifestyle and retail destination currently taking shape in Dubai, today announced at a press conference held at Meydan Hotel that it will be bringing the thrilling final stages of the 2019 edition of the annual event to the city. The event will run from December 12 to 14 at Meydan Grandstand.
Hosted for the first time in the Middle East in association with the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), the Festival further reinforces Dubai’s status as a leading destination for digital content development, with esports one of the key focus sectors. It also enhances the emirate’s position as major global venue for sporting events given its world-class infrastructure.
Attracting the mega gaming event is part of GDMO’s strategy to drive the development of the industry in the region and establish Dubai as a regional and global hub for competitive esports events under the umbrella of its Dubai 10X Media Project.
The UAE was ranked the number one market in gaming in the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA), according to recent figures. Gaming revenues in the UAE are estimated to have reached AED1.2 billion in 2018. The UAE has also been able to attract the best international e-sports teams and leagues since 2015.
The announcement also marks the beginning of two strategic partnerships between Meydan One and Grow uP eSports, the global organiser of GIRLGAMER, and Meydan One and Galaxy Racer Esports, the first major professional esports organisation in the region, which will also see esports take on a central role and raise the bar of the industry in the Middle East. Working with Meydan One, the two entities have been instrumental in bringing the world-renowned GIRLGAMER Esports Festival to Dubai, and the synergies struck will aim to foster the development of a gender- balanced esports industry in the Middle East.
True to the global nature of the competition, previous legs of the 2019 GIRLGAMER Esports Festival took place in Sydney (June), Singapore (August), Seoul (September), Madrid (September) and Sao Paulo (October). Throughout the year, women-only teams compete in a range of events in Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and League of Legends to qualify for the World Finals.
The potential of the esports industry in the Middle East is immense. With global revenue reaching $1.1 billion and a total audience of 453.8 million this year, esports continues to grow apace. Home to champions like Saudi Arabian Mossad “MSdossary” Aldossary, Jordanian Amer “Miracle-” Al- Barkawi and Lebanese Maroun “GH” Merhej and champion managers like Egyptian Mohamed Morad, the Middle East is filled with potential to become a major esports hub on the global stage.
Speaking of the announcement, Fahad Abdulrahim Kazim, Vice President of Meydan Malls, said: “This is a very exciting time for us. To partner with GIRLGAMER and bring one of the world’s most forward-thinking esports concepts to the Middle East is indeed an honour. Embodying the spirit of adventure that Meydan One is well known for, this move reinforces our commitment to the thriving esports industry.
“With the 2019 GIRLGAMER Esports Festival, we are introducing the very best modern gaming entertainment event while pushing the social envelope. We are dedicated to producing quality esports content for the region, educating people, and staging events of global magnitude in collaboration with Galaxy Racer Esports.”
With esports undergoing a social and financial boom in recent years, especially given Kyle Giersdorf’s US$3 million winner’s prize in the Fortnite World Cup 2019 in New York, all eyes are trained on the industry’s longevity and ability to promote social equality. Not one of the top 100 competitors in the Fortnite World Cup was a woman, despite a 73 million global female spectatorship of esports. Consequently, there is a major call for greater representation at all levels of the burgeoning industry.
Commenting on the significance of the GIRLGAMER event being hosted in Dubai, Ayesha bin Kalli from the Government of Dubai Media Office (GDMO), member of the Dubai 10X Media team said: “Supporting the emergence of what will soon become a booming market in the Middle East is a natural fit for Dubai, as the emirate’s reputation for identifying new opportunities demonstrates.
She added, “Together with Meydan One and its strategic partners, we will elevate the status of the esports industry in the region by attracting world-class young talent to this dynamic and ever- evolving destination that continues to effortlessly move with the times.”
Bin Kalli also noted that under the Dubai 10X initiative, Dubai is preparing to build the region's first stadium dedicated to all things esports, called the Dubai X-Stadium. The project, which seeks to establish the city as a regional and global hub for video gaming events, is a joint initiative being developed by the Government of Dubai Media Office in collaboration with TECOM Group. By hosting world-class e-sports events, Dubai X-Stadium is positioned to play a central role in the global industry.
Fernando Pereira, Global Organiser of the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival, said, “We are very enthusiastic about bringing our event to Dubai and incredibly happy to have found such amazing partners to join us in the mission towards inclusivity. Diversity is at the heart of everything we do, and the GIRLGAMER World Finals will help bring global attention to the incredible gender equality work being done in the region. We also hope to inspire the young generation to grow up more inclusive and to help parents in developing better relationships with their children.”
Maitha Shuaib, Director of Corporate Communications, Dubai Women’s Establishment (DWE), said, “We at the Dubai Ladies Club are very happy to support the organisation of the GIRLGAMER Esports Festival in Dubai. Supporting this event is aligned with the Dubai Ladies Club’s mandate to help women realise their potential and contribute to today’s ever-changing dynamic society. It is also in line with our objective to nurture the social, physical and cultural well-being of women.”
She added, “An event like the GIRLGAMER will help to raise the visibility of the women in esports — and tell their stories and highlight their accomplishments both in the region and across the world.”
Paul Roy, CEO, Galaxy Racer Esports - the regional partner of the event, said, “We are proud to be part of such an exciting event which is the best possible launch pad for Galaxy Racer Esports. The talent pool from the region have proven themselves on the biggest international stages and we felt the timing was perfect to launch a global esports organisation headquartered from Dubai. We couldn’t have asked for a better home than Meydan One. Stay tuned for some several more exciting announcements in the very near future.”
In the run-up to the world finals, a business conference will convene industry leaders, experts and esports pros to discuss the future of esports and the challenges it faces in achieving greater inclusion.