• DEF 2024 brought together more than 34,000 fans, families, and pros for the biggest gaming gathering in the region
  • Over 90 games played on 265 machines, including three unreleased titles, four new indie beta games, and one world premier
  • Fans witnessed big names battle it out for top honours and enjoyed meetups with gaming legends from across the region
  • Total prizes worth over AED 200,000 distributed throughout the festival

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: The third and biggest edition of the Dubai Esports and Games Festival (DEF) 2024, organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), concluded with resounding success and record-breaking visitor numbers. The 17-day event brought together more than 34,000 gaming fans of all ages and levels for an action-packed calendar of events, workshops, competitions, conferences, and educational sessions. Over 90 games were played on 265 machines during the region’s biggest ever and most exciting esports and games festival, including three unreleased titles, four new indie beta games launched in partnership with Dubai NEXT, and one world premier.

Families, gamers, students, and industry professionals discovered one-of-a-kind gaming experiences, joined and watched thrilling tournaments, witnessed cutting-edge game reveals and enjoyed meetups with gaming legends. The incredibly popular Festival also brought together 2,000 global and regional industry players, cementing Dubai’s position as a regional hub for the industry.

DEF 2024 represented a landmark event in Dubai’s mission to cultivate the growth of its gaming industry. The Festival marked significant progress in delivering the objectives of Dubai Economic Agenda, D33, which aims to further consolidate Dubai’s position as one of the top three global cities for business and leisure, support SME growth, drive technological advancements, and foster Dubai's economic development through digital innovation. The dynamic line up of events also empowered aspiring and emerging gaming talent, and promoted thriving careers in esports to foster the growth of the industry across the UAE.

Commenting on the successful conclusion of DEF 2024, Ahmed Al Khaja, CEO of Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment, said: “The Dubai Esports and Games Festival 2024 was our biggest, longest, and most exciting edition yet, marking an incredible milestone in Dubai’s mission to be a year-round global hub for esports and gaming. Throughout 17 days, families, gamers, and professionals joined this citywide celebration of gaming culture, showcasing their skill, strategy, and dedication, while also connecting with like-minded enthusiasts from across the world. DEF 2024 ventured into new innovative areas of gaming and esports experiences, providing a valuable platform for all to learn from experts, inspiring the next generation of up-and-coming gamers, and empowering these communities to thrive. We are proud to have showcased the convergence of innovation with gaming, esports, and entertainment, while driving promising investment and growth opportunities across our region.”

Epic Thrills, Showdowns, and More

A highlight of the Festival was the return of the DEF GameExpo, which welcomed more than 28,000 visitors from over 100 nationalities across three fun-packed days at the Dubai World Trade Center. Fans, gamers, and families enjoyed access to a variety of exciting zones, including the du Gaming District, where the freshest game releases and previews were explored; the Future Zone, which was home to cutting-edge tech gaming ideas; and the Retro Zone, where nostalgic games of the past were played. Visitors took a piece of the fun with them from The Narrows, a buzzing shopping zone where gaming artists showcased their crafts; while the Electric Avenue showcased all the latest tech available for purchase. The first-ever Emirates NBD Family Zone brought excitement for young gaming fans who could go head-on with their families on the Magic Planet Arcades and Nongshim family challenges. Visitors also recharged at the talabat F&B zone with a variety of food and casual eats.

Cosplayers had the opportunity to show off their creations in the Dubai Cosplay Catwalk and Championship, supported by COMICAVE™ and The Little Things as part of the DEF GameExpo. More than 70 entries were received across both competitions, judged by international and UAE-based cosplayers including @gibmesoju, @m7cosplay, @sayocoser, @pufacosplay, @shadowhart.cosplay, and @dreamcherries.cosplay. Winners took home cash prizes worth a total of AED 8,000.

Another exciting highlight, the DEF Play Beyond tournament saw regional and global gaming pros battle it out across top esports games in a high-octane showdown. Heart-pounding action took centre stage with unforgettable matchups between Team Purple, featuring regional stars @aboflah, @banderitax, @shongxbong, @arslan.ash, and several others; and Team Blue, consisting of globally renowned gamers @tarbounworkout, @techno_gamerz, and many more. Team Purple emerged victorious in a thrilling finale where they competed for supremacy across new and revered classic game battles, including EA Sports FC 24, Roblox, Tekken 8, and Fortnite Dubai Map.

Teleporting gamers to an exciting world of limitless gaming possibilities, DEF celebrated the world premiere of the Fortnite Dubai Hub in partnership with Emirates NBD. Fans can still engage in heart-pumping action and compete against other skilled marksmen in a futuristic, neon-lit Dubai cityscape. The game’s iconic landmarks, sleek skyscrapers, advanced technology, and innovative architecture include the first-of-its-kind Dubai Skirmish Towers and Emirates NBD Financial Growth Gauntlet. Players can enter this immersive gaming world with the code 5031-6982-4854.

Regional Tournaments and Championships

Huge prizes worth more than AED 70,000 were awarded during 16 exhilarating tournaments and championships. More than 3.6 million players gathered from across the region to embrace the thrill of gaming across Fortnite, PUBG Mobile, League of Legends, Valorant, Brawl Stars, Yalla Ludo, and Dominos Pro.

360-Degree Learning Experience

As a core component of the Festival, DEF also provided the next generation of gaming professionals with an exhilarating series of careers talks, closed door education days, and esports competitions that were specially designed to nurture young talent, offer expert insights, and raise awareness for innovative future career paths within the industry. The DEF Education Programme inspired creativity and innovation in over 6,000 students from more than 230 schools and universities with a free schedule of career talks, skills workshops, and exciting challenges. Students explored immersive gaming technology, joined educational sessions, met with gaming legends, showcased their digital and coding skills, witnessed electrifying esports tournaments, and experienced the future of gaming that offers diverse educational and career streams for children and youth.

The education programme continued at GameExpo with GX Academy, where CEA delivered Unreal Editor for Fortnite workshops teaching attendees how to build their own Fortnite Island and understand the foundations of game development.

Lastly, Gaming Matters Academy provided over 150 future gaming industry professionals with free access to mentorship, training, and knowledge-sharing sessions led by global gaming industry experts.

Gaming for All

Making gaming accessible for all, DEF also hosted an Accessibility Arcade at GameExpo where over 30 students of determination enjoyed everything on offer within a reduced sensory experience. Specialist onsite staff facilitated games like Just Dance, Red Bull Gaming Ground Sim Racing, Table Top Games, Magic Planet, Retro Games Zone, as well as new game releases; while adapted disability-friendly tools and consoles were set up from Xbox and PlayStation. Special guided tours of the arcades were also organised for the students, in addition to a thrilling meet-and-greet experience with Dubai Police.  

Gaming Innovation, Tech, and Trends

Welcoming gaming industry professionals to power up their knowledge, the Gaming Matters Forum brought together more than 400 senior government officials, industry leaders, and visionaries from around the world to explore the transformative power of gaming. Closed door sessions, networking opportunities, and global  discussions explored innovative strategies, latest trends, and technological innovations shaping the industry.

Continuing its line-up of industry events, DEF also welcomed over 1,500  industry thought leaders, government entities, and globally renowned gaming brands at the GameExpo Summit powered by Pocket Gamer Connects, which returned for its second edition this year. The leading international gaming conference brought together more than 90 high-profile speakers from across the global industry to share their insights in over 70 speaking tracks and sessions – covering topics from established monetisation skills and Web3 trends to current trends, challenges, and opportunities across the ever-evolving global gaming landscape.

DEF GameExpo was hosted with the support of Dubai Next, Dubai Police, Dubai Sports Council, in partnership with du, Emirates NBD, talabat, Samsung, Rove, Red Bull, VOX, Nongshim, Virgin Radio, Tik Tok, and Jio Games.

DEF GameExpo Summit was powered by Pocket Gamer Connects, with the support of Dubai SME, DMCC, Liftoff, Cloudflare Inc., Elevatix, Xsolla, ID@Xbox, Dubai Eye 103.8, AppLovin, Usercentrics, Mintegral, Meta, Appier, READYgg, FUTURA Digital, Gamerji, ScroogeFrog, Reliance Games, Aghanim, New Dimension Technologies, and Global Game Jam.


About Dubai Esports & Games Festival

Organised by Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), Dubai Esports & Games Festival (DEF2024) takes place from 19 April to 5 May 2024. Launched in 2022, the annual festival will be held at the Dubai World Trade Centre for the first time this year. The festival aims to set and influence trends across both the global and regional gaming industry, and bolster Dubai’s position as a global hub for esports and interactive tech-driven entertainment, and as a global city at the forefront of innovation. DEF2024 will feature a combination of events including a lively GameExpo, esports tournaments and influencer challenges for consumers, alongside GameExpo Summit, a thought-provoking and business stimulating conference and b2b networking event that connects companies from around the world.

About Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment

Dubai Festivals and Retail Establishment (DFRE), an agency of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism (DET), is responsible for developing Dubai’s retail and festival sectors and supporting the positioning of Dubai as a world-class tourism destination with year-round family entertainment, shopping and events.

For further information, please contact:
Dubai Economy and Tourism