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Amid Covid-19 pandemic, Middle East gaming more than doubles

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Gaming in the Middle East more than doubled during March and April at the height of Covid-19 lockdowns and social distancing in the region, according to video site Twitch.

Twitch – which allows users to broadcast their gameplay live to fan around the world – recorded a total of 65,582 streams during the time period.

In March, Twitch streams in Arabic increased by 95.3 percent year-on-year and 36.9 percent compared to the previous month, while in April the yearly increase was 109.9 percent.

The figures point to a gaming surge across the Middle East, with many of the top players coming from Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Bahrain.

The top channels in April included Saudi Arabia’s ixxYjYxxi, who recorded 210,257 views in 44 hours of streaming during the month. Another channel, RakanooLive, saw more than 561,000 hours of watch time.

Additionally, YouTube saw gaming viewership went from more than 1 million hours watched in February to 3 million in March. One Bahraini streamer recorded 911,000 hours of viewership while streaming Minecraft.

According to a white paper from internet company Tencent and Pubg Mobile, the MENA gaming market will be worth some $6 billion by 2021, up from $4.8 billion today.

“In today’s globalized and decentralized world, genuinely untapped growth markets are increasingly rare and the Middle East gaming opportunity should not be understated,” said David Parker, co-chief investment officer at the Bahrain Economic Development Board.

 “With Bahrain seeking to attract international talent and entrepreneurs as part of ongoing diversification efforts, the gaming market has the potential to explode as foreign investment, ideas and skills flow in,” he added.

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