Home LATEST NEWS HIGH TECH After soccer, Qatar wants to ride the wave of electronic sport

After soccer, Qatar wants to ride the wave of electronic sport


Doha, the capital of the country, has a complex reserved for this discipline in 2019, called Virtuocity. Shelved during the pandemic, it hosted its first major tournament in March: the opening round of the Smash World TourInternational Fighting Game Championship Super Smash Bros.with 5,000 Qatari rials (about C$1,800) up for grabs for the winner.

Qatar also has an electronic sports federation, which was created at the end of 2021, and the discipline has even been integrated into the program of the local campus of theInternational School of London as a means of developing certain skills in students.

Growing esports

The challenge: to get Qatari players out of their homes, or rather their Majlislarge rooms adjoining houses where men generally meet, and central places of sociability in Qatar.

Our Majlis are extremely well equipped, with [parfois] six consoles on which friends can play at the same timeexplains Ibrahim Samha, in charge of electronic sports projects at Virtuocity.

The Virtuocity e-sports center was inaugurated in 2019 in Doha.

Photo: Facebook/Virtuocity

We play it for fun, but if we want to take it to the next level, we have to participate in tournaments, and that’s where we come in.he adds.

Ahmed Al Meghessib, 24, took the plunge in 2017 to represent Qatar in the most popular soccer video game, Fifa (now known as‘EA FC Sports), and bring the national team to tenth in the world in May 2021.

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At first there wasn’t much interest in what I was doing […]but it’s progressinghe testifies.

People understand that esports is a serious thing, an industry that can be a source of income for the country. »

A quote from Ahmed Al Meghessib, representative of Qatar at the game EA FC Sports

Soccer games are very popular on console.

Photo: Electronic Arts

Personalities and companies are mobilizing

Khalifa Al Haroon, aka Mr. Qis a big proponent of esports in the wealthy gas emirate that wants to diversify its economy by 2030.

Influencer and owner of a store specializing in video games, he sponsors creators of content as well as tournaments, and he wants see Qatar become a leader in gaming in the Middle East and around the world.

His program: Make people understand that it’s not just a game, create more local leagues, encourage studios to set up in Qatar to create original content, work with agencies to bring in major international tournaments and show our companies that they must invest.

Electronic sports events bring together several thousand followers.

Photo: Getty Images/Hu Chengwei

The basis is there, we have already built it, […] but we need business support to move in the right directionsays Jack AlBlushi, a 35-year-old Pakistani born in Qatar, who organizes tournaments of the game for phones or tablets PUBG-Mobile.

The mobile phone operator Ooredoo was convinced: it sponsored a tournament of the game Fifa (now known as EA FC Sportsas previously explained) in late May, with around $32,000 up for grabs, and launched a talent scouting program to build a professional team.

Among his first two recruits: Ahmed Al Meghessib (on EA Sports FC) and Yousef Al Defaa (on Fortnite).

Qatar takes its place

Are we far from our goal? asks Khalifa Al Haroon.on time.”,”text”:”A year ago there was practically nothing. Qatar does not stop, it advances at 100 per hour.”}}”>A year ago, there was almost nothing. Qatar does not stop, it advances at 100 per hour.

For the Mexican player Chag, winner of the first stage of the Smash World Tour at Virtuocity in March and one of the best players in Super Smash Bros. in the world, the Qatari scene can grow a lot, and it’s a good basis for the world to look to Qatar.

Super Smash Bros is a fighting game featuring characters from the Mario universe.

Photo: Nintendo

There is a very strong push from Qatar and Saudi Arabiaconfirms to Agence France-Presse Nicolas Besombes, sociologist of electronic sports, speaking of a fairly recent phenomenon that started a little before the pandemic.

It’s “soft-power” in the raw, as they have done with sport, to improve their image and their attractivenesshe analyzes. The Middle East is also a world that esports is trying to seduce. He seeks investors where there is money.

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