A new video games company based in Abu Dhabi plans to create titles featuring characters as diverse as the champion boxer Manny Pacquiao and figures from the children's comic Majid.
Launched this month, Karkadann Games, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Abu Dhabi Media Company (ADMC), plans to publish a number of titles aimed at the casual gamer. ADMC also owns and publishes The National.
Its first game, Cricket Power: ICC World Cup 2011, which was developed through a licensing deal with the International Cricket Council, will be released next month.
David Ortiz, the general manager of Karkadann, said the cricket title would be a browser-based online game, and would sell at about US$9.99 (Dh36.69).
"People will pay to play," Mr Ortiz said. "There are also opportunities for us to set some advertising space and also for us to work with distributors internationally if we want to sell the game more directly."
The game is set for release before the start of the ICC World Cup cricket tournament next month and its computer software was programmed by Mindstorm Studios, a developer based in Pakistan. Karkadann plans to build its staff base in Abu Dhabi and attract programming talent to the capital.
Karkadann means "lord of the desert" in Arabic, and the name is based on a mythical character from the 1001 Arabian Nights compilation of Arabic folk tales.
The publisher's next title will be based on the Filipino boxer Pacquiao, with whom the developer has signed a multi-year deal for a number of games.
"We're not necessarily going to focus on boxing, we're going to focus on Manny and all the different things that he can represent," said Mr Ortiz.
Ricky Ghai, the head of digital for ADMC, said Karkadann would aim to use intellectual property (IP) from the Arab world in creating other titles. One game in development is based on Majid, the children's comic also produced by ADMC.
"In this part of the world we're sitting on a gold mine … there is a storytelling art that this region is known for and we have an opportunity to convert that into IP," said Mr Ghai.
"This is an untapped market. I think that the Arabic space is probably where you're going to find the next CityVille or FarmVille [online games] in terms of magnitude."
The new gaming division is a second foray into the video games sector by ADMC. The company is an investor and a partner of Gazillion Entertainment, a video games publisher that has also attracted financial backing from Singapore's Temasek Holdings, and the Founders Fund, based in the US.
Although there are no specific figures for the Middle East, the video games sector is big business in the region.
The global gaming market is expected to grow from $52.5 billion last year to $86.8bn in 2014, according to a recent report by PricewaterhouseCoopers. It is expected that the Middle East's video games industry will see similar growth.
The popularity of online gaming in the region was further underlined by a recent survey conducted by the Arab Advisors Group, which found that 65.3 per cent of internet users in Saudi Arabia play games online.
ADMC's entry into the video games industry comes at a time when international players are looking at the region as a prime opportunity for growth.
Sony Entertainment has begun to translate some of its titles for PlayStation 3 into Arabic, while Quirkat, headquartered in Abu Dhabi and with development studios in Jordan, published a series of Arabic card games for the PlayStation Portable device.