Video Playground

True Gamers wants to build a $280 million gaming island in Abu Dhabi

The developer of video game lounges and arenas announced plans for the first-of-its-kind resort in the municipal boundaries of the UAE's capital city

eSports are becoming big business in the Gulf. (Photo: Getty Images)

True Gamers is looking to up the ante on the business of video games in the Gulf.

The UAE-based gaming lounge and arena developer announced plans today for a $280 million gaming island in the Al Seef area of Abu Dhabi, providing a first-of-its-kind destination for pros and hobbyists of Fortnite, Counter-Strike and League of Legends. 

The startup says it’s working with undisclosed investors for funding and discussions with developers are in the works.

True Gamers envisages a gaming-themed hotel, eSports camps for kids and a dedicated residence for professional players to prepare for major tournaments with healthy food, personal space and gaming equipment. 

True Gamers was founded in 2019 and has 124 gaming halls in the UAE and Eastern Europe. Earlier this year, the company signed an agreement to open 150 clubs in Saudi Arabia with an investment of $45 million and a franchise deal with Saudi entrepreneur Nawaf Al-Bishri.

The demographics in the UAE and Saudi Arabia are supportive of the gaming push, where people skew younger and the pastime is wildly popular. Nearly half of the people in the UAE are under 35 and in the kingdom, it’s 70%.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, 38, is said to be a big Call of Duty fan. The Public Investment Fund, which he chairs, has earmarked $38 billion for an ambitious plan to attract 250 gaming companies and studios and create 39,000 video game-related jobs in the process, building its credentials in the e-arena with investments in the biggest players like Tencent, Nintendo, Activision Blizzard and Ubisoft.

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