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Pakistan

With UAE company’s backing, Pakistan set for bigger share of ‘$300-billion’ industry

• Galaxy Racer Pakistan CEO Fakhr-e-Alam says company’s mandate is to provide platform to boost esports in the country
Updated 28 Jan, 2022

KARACHI: If there is one thing Microsoft’s $69-billion deal to purchase US gaming giant Activision Blizzard teaches us, it is that the video-game industry is huge, and becoming bigger. Once-in-a-century events like the pandemic have helped, but even without it, potential existed much before. Covid-19 may have just nudged it forward faster.

While some estimates put the industry value at $300 billion, its growth and potential is what is forcing people to take notice as well.

Pakistan also recently got its share of developments related to the video-gaming industry, particularly esports, when UAE-based Galaxy Racer, valued at over $1.5 billion last year, announced that its partnering with Fakhr-e-Alam, a household name in the country, to branch out and establish operations in the country.

Galaxy Racer, one of the portfolio companies of Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Maktoum Private Office, has a global footprint with a subscriber count crossing 400 million worldwide, according to a report in the Khaleej Times. The report added that Alam will take a $40-million stake in the company and will be responsible for all operations in Pakistan.

Recently, the UAE esports company also announced an investment in Pakistan with Alam insisting that the industry is set to take on traditional sports in a big way.

Esports, as the word suggests, is a form of competition using video games. Due to ever-improving internet speeds, live streaming of such events has surged to unfathomable popularity in recent years.

In Pakistan too, esports has become increasingly popular, especially among the tech savvy youth with the country boasting celebrated gamers like Sumail Hassan, Yawar Hassan and Arslan Siddiqui to name a few. However, it is the platform that has been found wanting.

Alam says Galaxy Racer intends to change that.

In an exclusive interview with Business Recorder, Alam, who has had a multi-faceted career spanning from show-business to social work, revealed what prompted him to enter the industry.

“I got into it through a friend of mine,” Alam told Business Recorder. “I would also like to thank His Highness Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum, from the royal family of Dubai, who is one of the biggest shareholders in the company. He trusted me with becoming a partner and bringing this to Pakistan.”

Days ago, Galaxy Racer announced an investment in Pakistan to build the country’s esports and gaming industry.

The announcement was made following the approval of the zone enterprise license by the Special Technology Zone Authority (STZA) for the company to operate in Pakistan.

“This tournament is the first step in unlocking the gaming potential of esports in Pakistan,” said Sheikh Ahmed Dalmook Al Maktoum on the development then, adding that the collaboration “begins a new chapter in the history of UAE and Pakistan relationship”.

The development came as Pakistan recently concluded its biggest e-sports festival ‘Gamers Galaxy’ in Islamabad on January 8-9.

The Gamers Galaxy competition carried with it a grand prize pool of Rs20 million. Sharing his thoughts on the recently concluded event, Alam said that the event was a “massive success, far more than what we had anticipated”.

“We had over 16,000 people that visited the event over the two days of gaming, and it is very clear that the gaming culture is huge in Pakistan, and it is going to grow further, and as time goes by we will see more and more gamers and bigger events.”

Alam revealed that Gamer Galaxy would bring two more events this year, including Pakistan’s first-ever professional esports league, called the Supreme Galactic League, followed by a schools and colleges’ championship throughout the country, known as the Scholars Galaxy.

“From what I see, there are some players who, if groomed and trained properly, can easily go and compete internationally.”

However, Alam said the idea is not just to promote gaming, but also highlight an investment opportunity that remains untapped.

“Gaming is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, with year-on-year growth in the last two years at 900%.

“That’s bigger than any sports on the planet, and bigger than the entire global film industry,” Alam emphasised, who believes that traditional sports are going to be under a lot of pressure.

“Sports like cricket, which have been around since the 17th-18th century, and even today with all the muscle that cricket has globally, with all the big franchises, is not a $10-billion dollar industry,” he said.

When asked about what Pakistan can learn from the example of the UAE, a country that in a relatively short span of time has emerged among the top technological hubs, Alam says that it is all about providing a platform.

“The UAE has always embraced technology, the leadership of the United Arab Emirates is very forward looking and they are always looking to take on new ideas and implement them. They saw technology coming way ahead than most other countries and governments and they have done the same with esports. They want to make sure that everybody has a proper platform to be able to compete,” he said.

Alam also lauded the role of the Special Technology Zone Authority (STZA) for providing Galaxy Racer the opportunity to come into Pakistan, and incentives to invest into a budding sector.

“The STZA actually was the catalyst of Galaxy Racer coming to Pakistan,” said Alam, referring to tax breaks, profit-repatriation rules, and other incentives.

“We are looking forward to ensuring the entire ecosystem of the gaming industry is given a solid foundation in Pakistan.

“There is tremendous amount of growth opportunity not just for players, but for influencers streaming videos, game-designing, coding, working on the artificial intelligence side of the video games,” concluded Alam.

Copyright Business Recorder, 2022

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