DUBAI // The UAE may not have won any medals at the Beijing Olympics, but it could prove to be a world-beater at computer games. The Dubai World Game Championships were launched yesterday, sparking an eight-week search for the best computer game players in the country. At malls throughout the Emirates, individuals of any nationality will be invited to prove their skills at one of three games: Pro Evolution Soccer, Top Spin Tennis or Need For Speed. Players can rise through the ranks to compete at the Dubai World Game Expo at the end of October, with the winners sharing prizes valued at more than Dh50,000 (US$13,600).
However, the highlight of the championships is the chance for Emiratis to form a team of five to represent the country at the World Cyber Games Finals. Emiratis have been urged to form teams and test their skills on the popular shooting game Counter Strike. The team that wins the Dubai championships will be sent to compete against the lightning-fast reactions of the world's best players in Germany in November.
"This will be the first time the UAE has entered a team in an event like this, and I think it is a big thing for the country," said Anas al Madani, the vice president of Index Holding, the company behind the Dubai World Game Expo. "There is a big market for computer games here. They are very popular, especially during the summer. This is a chance for people here to show their skills. "There have been tournaments held elsewhere for years, but this is the first one to be staged in the UAE and I think it is a great opportunity."
Mr Madani said some players in the US, Asia and Europe had managed to turn their hobby in to a career. There was scope for professional game players to emerge in this region as well, he said. "I have heard of people making $70,000 to $80,000 a year playing games in the US. Game companies sponsor them to promote their brand," he said. "I think in a few years' time that could happen here. The market for games in the Middle East is growing all the time."
Mr Madani said some computer games could even help to fight the flab during long summer days spent indoors. "With games on the Nintendo Wii, like tennis, you are moving about a lot, getting sweaty," he said. "Games do not have to just be about sitting around." @Email:email@example.com