As the video gaming industry expands across the Arab world, a UAE-based university has decided to tap into the field.
The Australian University of Wollongong in Dubai announced it will start offering a major that teaches students video game development and digital animation. The four-year course launches in September and aims at addressing "the needs of the region's burgeoning gaming industry."
Students who enroll in the program will not only be learning all about game design but will also study several elements related to video gaming including "animation, visual communications, graphic design and social media."
The course is accredited by the UAE's Ministry of Education. After graduation, future students will have a choice of receiving their degree from either the University of Wollongong in Dubai or in Australia.
In a statement to The National, Dr. Feras Hamza, head of the university's School of Humanities, Social Sciences and Health, said the major was launched as part of a plan to help students train for jobs that will become available to them in the future.
"There was a gap in the market because there was no one offering creative specialization in media. In gaming and digital animation, technology is moving fast," he explained.
The new course is designed to train students to tap into the growing video gaming market in the region. It's important to give students programs "that support the needs of the region," according to Prof Mohamed Salem, the university's president.
Video gaming is a booming industry in the Middle East
Video gaming is thriving in the Arab world, especially among younger generations. According to Suzy Pallet, vice president of Informa - the company that organized the Middle East Games Con in Abu Dhabi last October - the gaming industry in the region is growing at a rate of 26 percent annually.
In a statement she made last year, Pallet added that when it came to video gaming, the Middle East was an "untapped opportunity."
Numbers released by Statista - a German online statistics portal - has estimated that "video games are expected to generate $262 million (Dh962m) in revenue in the region this year."
Despite the fact that video gaming is a fast-developing industry with countless job offers, there are still rarely any official educational courses related to it in the region. Arabs interested in the field usually resort to universities abroad or online degrees.
In an interview with The National, Malek Teffaha, head of communication and localization at the MENA branch of leading international video gaming company Ubisoft, explained that there is a need for more gaming degrees in the Arab world.
"Potentially, there are jobs for graduates and this opens up opportunities for students to explore the field properly. Right now, the biggest hurdle is there are not a lot of educational courses helping people tap into this field," he added.
So here's to hoping more educational institutions across the region start offering students the opportunity to study video-game design and entrepreneurship at a professional level.