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Inaugural Dubai Esports Festival to feature exciting line up of events in November 2022

The inaugural Dubai Esports Festival (DEF) 2022 set to take place from 9 – 20 November 2022 will feature an exciting set of live events and activities across two weeks that will bring together leading gamers, esports thought leaders and pop culture enthusiasts from across the world.

Organised by the Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE) in partnership with VSPN – a global leader in esports activities and solutions, the Dubai Esports Festival (DEF) 2022 will be the first international leisure event to be held at the Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC), Expo City Dubai following the hugely successful Expo 2020.

DEF 2022 is set to be the most exciting esports and gaming event in the Middle East, in line with Dubai’s position as a hub for innovation. The Festival will feature two weeks of live events and activities including the highly anticipated PUBG Global Championship 2022, GameExpo, PopconME, Initiate Summit, a live concert, regional tournaments and a school tournament as well as retail promotions taking place across the city showcasing the latest games and merchandise.

The event will bring together the world’s greatest gamers, developers, creatives and artists, allowing esports fans to meet and engage with global gaming celebrities and industry leaders.

Muna Al Falasi, Director, Festival Strategy & Planning, DFRE commented: “We very much look forward to a dynamic and stimulating event which will enrich the thriving gaming and esports scene in Dubai. The event will attract talented and keen gaming individuals from around the world, allowing gaming communities to connect and interact with top-tier esports professionals and create a space for the sector to expand and thrive. During the Festival, the series of exhilarating events will create spaces and platforms for key thought leaders to share industry updates and inspire all individuals in attendance to engage within this exciting sector.”

“We are thrilled to host the Dubai Esports Festival (DEF) at the state-of-the-art Dubai Exhibition Centre (DEC). Dubai has an ambitious vision to build a digitally-enabled future, and we are committed to reinforcing the Emirate’s position as a global hub for events, tourism, and innovation by providing unmatched infrastructure, facilities, and services. Having welcomed the world through a series of unique events at DEC during Expo 2020, we are looking forward to welcoming DEF’s participants and guests from across the globe for this much-anticipated festival,” said Mahir Abdulkarim Julfar, Executive Vice President of Venue Services Management, Dubai World Trade Centre.

Sholto Douglas Home, Chief Sales & Marcomms Officer, Expo City Dubai said: “Continuing Expo 2020 Dubai’s legacy of driving innovation through collaboration, Expo City Dubai is leading the way in creative pursuits, smart solutions and new technologies, and we are excited to host an event of this scale and popularity. The incredible set-up at Dubai Exhibition Centre will bring together local and global gamers and esports fans in an exhilarating event that will showcase this fast-growing international phenomenon.”

The Dubai Esports Festival will create a platform for global gamers, investors, entrepreneurs and international players to engage in a vibrant environment during the Festival. The Festival will also be host to a series of lifestyle and pop cultural activities for families and children.

Key dates and details of events across the festival for gamers and fans to note include:

PUBG Global Championship

Taking place from 1 – 20 November, the PUBG Global Championship (PGC) will pit 32 teams from across four regions against each other for a share of more than $2 million and the coveted PGC Champions title. Doors to the Grand Finals stage will be open to the public from 17th – 20th November at DEC’s North Hall, and the entire rousing tournament will be live-streamed for fans all over the world on

Initiate Summit

Geared towards gaming industry professionals, developers and creatives with the aim of enhancing the esports ecosystem in Dubai and the MENA region, the Initiate Summit is an essential B2B platform taking place from 9 – 11 November 2022 with a two-day agenda of talks with over 40 industry leaders, high-level networking opportunities, as well as engaging deep-dive workshops on the third day. The showcase will offer more than 200 attendees insights into the latest global esports trends, highlight key investment opportunities as well as serve as a hub for the region’s gaming ecosystem, global talent and sector innovation. The industry gathering will host prominent speakers including Maxime Durand, World-Design Director at Ubisoft Montreal; Rocco Scandizzo, Head of Unreal Engine EMEA at Epic Games; Matthew Pickering, CEO at Power League Gaming (PLG); Sam Mathews, Chief Executive Officer and Founder of Fnatic; John Lacey, Head of MENA at Tencent and Country Manager of Level Infinite; and many more.


With four immersive zones hosting brands, publishers and gaming experts, GameExpo is a platform for fans to interact with all things gaming and esports taking place on 10 – 13 November. Fans can watch exciting live esports tournaments as well as meet and compete against their gaming idols at the Dubai Gaming Zone.  A Retro Games zone will offer fans a nostalgic blast from the past with unique and rare vintage gaming entertainment and casual competitions and tournaments open to all fans. Fans will be able to enjoy the latest quirky indie games as well as get a first look at the latest BETA games from independent gaming developers at The Discovery Zone. A dedicated Streamer Hub allows gaming streamers and social media personalities to live stream content and updates while at the Festival.


A celebration of all elements of world-class pop culture, from superheroes, comics, gaming, art, movies, TV, anime and more, PopConME will take place from 10 – 13 November. Featuring a variety of immersive and entertaining experiences, fans are encouraged to dress up in their favourite cosplay outfits, meet with their favourite cosplay celebrities, as well as take a deep dive into Japanese anime culture through live performances, movie screenings, workshops and art.

Regional Tournaments

As part of the festival’s aim to empower and inspire grassroots esports communities, the MENA region’s best gamers will get the chance to battle it out on stage in one of the tournaments – a mobile game tournament from 12 – 13 November and a console tournament from 19 – 20 November.  Open to gamers of all ages in the region, players qualify online on their chosen platform and finalists will perform live on stage.

School Tournament

Working with a select number of Dubai-based schools, the school tournament will take place on 10 November as young gamers qualify in the classroom with finalists challenging each other live on stage during the festival.


A soon-to-be-announced on-stage performance will take place on 19 November ahead of the last day of the festival. More details will be revealed closer to the festival and visitors can stay up to date on DEF’s social media pages.

DEF 2022 caters to gamers, families, friends, art & music lovers and industry professionals and esports experts as part of its first edition, with the aim of uniting and developing the gaming and esports communities in Dubai and the region. Alongside the festival, these communities drive awareness and understanding of the value of video games as well as encourage the next generation to consider esports and gaming as a profession.

With the city being a global technology and event hub, several active esports institutions, entities and communities for keen gamers exist throughout Dubai. Entrepreneurs in the industry can engage within the dynamic esports ecosystem which enables innovators and thought leaders to thrive, particularly with the recent announcement of The Dubai Creative Economy Strategy, which aims to support Dubai-based creative entrepreneurship.  

As well as cultivating the esports community in Dubai and beyond, DEF 2022 will be an integral element of the events and gaming sector in the city and aid the growth of the industry year on year, particularly as Dubai cements its position as a global hub for technology, innovation, entrepreneurship and events.