20 march 2024

Under the patronage of Ahmed bin Mohammed, Dubai Esports & Games Festival to showcase city’s unbeatable appeal as MENA’s gaming hub in its third edition

17 days of epic gaming, esports, and entertainment events beckon gamers, enthusiasts, and industry experts to the city from 19 April to 5 May

Festival offers action-packed programme of events for all ages and interests including exclusive Meet-and-Greets with top stars, unreleased titles and world-first showings

Three-day GameExpo will mark return at DWTC, with expanded lineup of world exclusives and gaming tournaments from 3 to 5 May

Families can bond over gaming battles at the new Family Zone, while the Electric Avenue will feature over a curated selection of specialised electronic retailers

Government of Dubai Media Office – 16 February 2024: Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Ahmed bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Second Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Media Council, the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) has announced that the Dubai Esports & Games Festival (DEF 2024) will be held from 19 April to 5 May, featuring an array of events and activities across the city. DEF 2024, which promises to be the Festival’s biggest, longest and most exciting edition yet, is set to further enhance Dubai’s position as a global gaming hub by offering unparalleled gaming experiences, exciting esports tournaments, cutting-edge industry insights, and family fun events for fans and audiences.

Now in its third year, the Dubai Esports & Games Festival aims to rewrite the benchmarks set by last year’s edition, with over 50 games played on 200 machines, including 11 unreleased titles and 4 world-first showings. The 2023 edition attracted a staggering 48,200 esports participants and attendees representing 91 different nationalities. DEF 2024 is set to be a game-changer, featuring more thrilling events than before. This includes the return of the amazing, immersive GameExpo, influencer esports tournaments, and the GameExpo Summit powered by Pocket Gamer Connects, where gaming professionals can stay ahead of the latest gaming trends and network with global experts.

Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, expressed his excitement about the third edition of the festival, saying, “The Dubai Esports & Games Festival 2024 is more than an event; it’s a celebration of the skill, strategy, and the dedication of gamers and esports professionals across the city, the region and wider global landscape. In a city committed to the digital economy's growth and transformation, this year’s festival is set to be the leader of the region's gaming industry, solidifying Dubai's position as a year-round global hub for esports and gaming. This year, DEF will go above and beyond, venturing into new innovative areas of gaming and esports experiences. DEF 2024 will bring together players, enthusiasts, and industry experts worldwide over their love of gaming and esports, while empowering these communities to thrive not just in Dubai, but across the wider GCC and beyond.”

DEF 2024 delivers on the goals set forth in the Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, by supporting SME growth, driving technological advancements, and fostering Dubai's economic development through digital innovation. By showcasing the world’s most groundbreaking games and bringing together top industry leaders at one innovative festival, DEF 2024 strengthens Dubai's standing as a leading gaming hub on the international stage.

Thrills galore

At the heart of the festival lies the GameExpo, running at the Dubai World Trade Centre, in Zabeel Halls 5 and 6, from 3 to 5 May, marking a new venue for this year's celebration of gaming culture. Open to the public, the ticketed event welcomes gamers of all ages, genres and formats. Ticket holders can explore cutting-edge gaming products, newly released titles, meet regional and global gaming stars, in addition to taking part in esports competitions.

GameExpo features a variety of zones to suit different interests. Fans can step into an epic adventure and explore the Gaming District, where the latest game releases and previews await; the Future Zone, where cutting-edge tech meets the pulse of tomorrow's gaming; the Retro Zone, which offers a nostalgic blast from the past; while The Narrows, a bustling shopping alley brimming with artists showcasing their craft, promises an unforgettable experience for all.

Families can bond over gaming battles at the new Family Zone, while the Electric Avenue houses a curated selection of specialised electronic retailers, perfect for tech enthusiasts seeking out the latest gaming gear at great prices.

GameExpo 2024 also includes diverse activations such as cosplay, esports tournaments, coding workshops, and Minecraft education challenges, guaranteeing an immersive and engaging experience for all visitors. Tickets for the expo will be available soon on Platinum List.

Ultimate gaming showdown

Gaming enthusiasts can witness amazing match-ups and hard-fought gaming contests at Play Beyond, as their favourite gamers go head-to-head in the ultimate gaming showdown and exhibit the thrill of live gaming at its finest. With the participation of top regional and global stars and exclusive meet-and-greet opportunities, Play Beyond promises to elevate the esports experience to new heights.

Ramadan online tournaments

DEF 2024 is gearing up for some serious gaming action during Ramadan, with a line-up of thrilling tournaments both online and in gaming cafes across Dubai. These tournaments will undoubtedly spark excitement among the gaming community, with live finals set to take place during the festival period.

Igniting young minds

There is the opportunity for students to enhance their knowledge and supercharge their digital skills through the Microsoft MakeCode Competition, and the Minecraft Education Challenge. They can also gain insider insights into the gaming industry through Industry Expert Talks held in schools and universities, inspiring the next generation of gaming enthusiasts. Future gaming champions can also embrace the thrill of competition with in-school tournaments featuring popular titles such as Rocket League and Fortnite, with university students battling it out on EAFC 24 and Valorant. Adding to the excitement is the DEF Gamers Day, where students can unleash their creativity by dressing up as their favourite gaming characters at school. The DEF Education Programme is offered for free to all participating schools and universities.

On 1 and 2 May, dedicated school days will provide students with an immersive experience at GameExpo, where they can engage with interactive exhibits, gaming showcases, and more. It's an adventure that's sure to fuel their passion for gaming like never before!

Registration for the various competitions and activities is now live.

Chance to connect and learn

Gaming industry professionals can stay ahead of the game, power up their knowledge, and connect with industry experts at the GameExpo Summit, powered by Pocket Gamer Connects, the leading international games conference series. Taking place on 1 and 2 May at the Dubai World Centre, this ticketed two-day networking and knowledge-sharing conference offers the perfect opportunity to discover the business of gaming and esports while making valuable connections.

A broad cross-section of the games industry will be represented, from local developers to international CEOs. Attendees can meet with developers, investors, publishers, and industry insiders and attend talks and panels in an environment buzzing with innovation and collaboration. The GameExpo Summit will also feature a stage with 50 expert speakers, an expo area, a match-making platform for industry professionals to find their next business partner, a pitching competition for indie developers, and more.

Please visit https://www.dubaiesportsfestival.com for more information and to register for ticket updates on Dubai Esports & Games Festival 2024.

For more information and registration on GameExpo Summit, https://www.pgconnects.com/DubaiGameExpoSummit is the site to access.

For the Minecraft Education Challenge, schools can register students aged 7-12 years to participate here: Registration Link.

For school and university tournaments, career talks, free visits to Game Expo, and to enter Microsoft MakeCode, registration can be completed here: Registration Link.