x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Meydan's geek fest set to spread after wild reception

Between 4,000 and 4,500 fans are estimated to have attended the event, which was put together in just two months.

DUBAI // The success of this year's IGN Convention is a sign of things to come for the entire region.

That's the message from the event's organisers, who welcomed thousands of video game, comic and film fanatics at Dubai's Meydan Imax this weekend.

Up to 4,500 fans were estimated to have attended the event, which was organised in only two months.

Abbas Ali, IGN's Middle East director, said this could be the spark to launch more events in the region.

"We are taking notes, making sure we can listening to fans, and hopefully next year we can have an even bigger and better convention," Mr Ali said.

"We plan on taking IGN Convention GCC-wide, and hopefully we'll announce the next location and venue within the next month.

"We want to have it everywhere. People just love comics and games, no matter where they are from."

IGN is a US entertainment website dominated by video games, film, music and comic books.

The two-day event in Dubai was pitched as a haven for geeks, gamers and cosplayers - people who like to dress up as their favourite characters from films, comics and games - from across the region, and certainly delivered.

"It was amazing. It was my first convention," said Abdullah Al Ruwietai, from Saudi Arabia.

"I don't have this where I'm from, all of the cosplay, the games - it was awesome."

"It's been great seeing The Last of Us," said Rawah Muaygil, an avid video gamer and comic fan, referring to an acclaimed new PlayStation game.

"I would love to see more of this ... it was really impressive."

One famous face, at least to the fans, who appeared at the event was Naomi Kyle, the presenter of IGN's online show The Daily Fix.

"It was a great opportunity for gamers to feel like there are part of something," Kyle said.

"The cosplay competition was one of the highlights for me, seeing people who are so passionate about a game or comic book and just be fun and let loose a bit. That was really cool."

Ashraf Ghori, a prominent Indian comic-book artist and chief executive of the digital-design agency Xpanse CGI in Dubai Media City, created the character on the IGN Convention promotional poster, named Ignite.

"It is very interesting the way it has progressed," Mr Ghori said.

"In the early 1990s I used to do many conventions like this in the US - many years later it is coming here now.

"Someone really needed to take the first step to bring out that kind of subculture here.

"I think we're are going to see a lot more of that happening."