Booming Arab videogame market ‘to be worth as much as TV’

As industry’s fastest-growing sector, gaming is set to be worth $4.4bn by 2022, according to research unveiled at Abu Dhabi Media Summit

Ben Flanagan
Published: Updated:
Enable Read mode
100% Font Size

The Arab videogame market is set to be worth $4.4 billion – equal to the television industry – by 2022, according to research unveiled at Abu Dhabi Media Summit (ADMS).

Booming demand for smartphone and Arabic-language games makes the sector the fastest-growing in the Middle East media, according to a report by consultancy firm Strategy&, formerly Booz & Company.


The market for videogames is set to triple from its current value of $1.6bn, according to Jayant Bhargava, a partner with Strategy&.

“Youth is clearly behind creating this consumption base in the Middle East,” Bhargava said on the opening day of the ADMS. “We expect the gaming market over the next decade to mirror the size of the television market.”

The forecast $21-per-month outlay by paying gamers in the Middle East is comparable with “some of the most leading, advanced gaming markets in the world,” he added.

Bhargava said that mobile gaming is going to account for the majority of the growth, while the market for locally produced games is likely to outpace the rest of the industry.

“It’s not fair to view the Middle East only as a consumption oasis for gaming. The Middle East is also emerging as a development hub,” he said. “Also, we do expect more and more global games to be localized for the Arab region.”

The forecast boom in spending on video games will help push total consumer spending on media to $21 billion by 2019, Bhargava added.

He said “the stars are aligning” for the Middle East and North Africa media market as a whole, given the rising population, consumer expenditure, and use of digital media.

“Most of the media segments are going to flourish over the next few years,” he said.

The television industry and ecommerce markets are two other areas set to experience particularly high growth, he added.

But trust in buying products online is currently a major stumbling block, he said, with up to 90 percent of consumers choosing to pay cash-on-delivery instead of using credit cards.

The TV industry is currently dominated by free-to-air satellite broadcasters. But advertising-funded television is expected to grow at just 7.8 percent per year, compared to 10.3 percent for pay-TV, according to Strategy&. E-commerce set to grow 13 percent annually in next five years, the firm’s report said.

The ADMS was opened by Queen Rania of Jordan and Khaldoon al-Mubarak, the chairman of the summit.