twofour54 ibtikar, twofour54’s financing and support pillar, has today announced new venture capital investment deals with two of the region’s leading Arabic online games companies, Tahadi Games and Jawaker.
With global information technology research experts Gartner predicting significant growth for the gaming industry in the coming years, these strategic investments represent another important milestone for the region’s indigenous digital gaming industry. The new agreements will help boost the development of a gaming cluster in Abu Dhabi, strengthening twofour54’s position as the region’s leading centre for game development in the Arab world.
Commenting on the new investment deals, Wayne Borg, Deputy CEO and Chief Operating Officer at twofour54, said: “Gaming represents a huge area of growth and these investments, with two of the region’s most promising companies, clearly shows twofour54’s commitment to supporting the development of an Arabic gaming industry.
“The worldwide revenue of the industry is enormous with consumer spending expected to surpass $74bn by the end of the year, and online spend expected to double from USD11.8bn this year to some $28bn by 2015 (Gartner 2011). However until recently the gaming landscape in the Middle East was significantly under-developed, despite appetite from local consumers for games that they can culturally identify with, and good levels of local developer and entrepreneurial talent. Our new agreements, which combine Tahadi and Jawaker’s online gaming expertise with twofour54 ibtikar’s investment and strategic support, will help to strengthen the regional gaming industry in addition to Abu Dhabi’s position as the Middle East’s leading Arabic gaming hub.”
Established in 2008 by the founders and previous owners of Maktoob.com, the region’s biggest Arabic language portal, which was recently purchased by Yahoo, Tahadi aims to be the region’s leading online games publisher for client and browser based massive multiplayer online (MMO) games that target the Middle East.
Mr. Steve Tsao, CEO of Tahadi, said: “This investment partnership with twofour54 ibtikar will allow us to focus on our core strengths, whilst utilising their regional and international network and international industry experience to license, develop and publish tailored and relevant content that appeals and resonates with Arab gamers. With the support of twofour54 ibtikar our aim is to publish up to ten localised games over the next five years.”
Jawaker is a multiplayer card gaming website developed especially for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. Launched in April of 2009, the website does not require the user to download or install software and is regarded as the leading online card gaming community in the Middle East with over 500,000 registered users, 95% of whom use the site in Arabic. Jawaker serves over 17 million page views per month, and currently has approximately 100,000 visitors per month.
Mohamad Haj Hasan, Co-founder of Jawaker, said: “twofour54 ibtikar’s investment in Jawaker will enable the company to capitalise on the rapidly expanding popularity of online gaming regionally. With the region’s extremely high percentage of young people combined with increased broadband penetration, we will look to work with twofour54 ibtikar to expand our current offering and develop and publish a wide range of Arabic card games for the region’s burgeoning online audience.”
Tahadi and Jawaker have become established players in the Middle East’s rapidly developing online gaming industry - total user registrations are increasing at roughly 100% per annum for both companies. Investment from twofour54 ibtikar will not only see the companies have access to the capital required to grow, but it will also see them provided with the active support necessary to capture revenue and profit opportunities from within the twofour54 ecosystem and beyond. It is these factors that are vital for the development of a sustainable and indigenous digital games industry.
twofour54 ibtikar supports creative entrepreneurship through venture capital funding and operational support for start-up and early stage businesses and talented young Arabs across the Middle East and North Africa. twofour54 ibtikar investment activities focus on Arabic content creation businesses and creative individuals or entrepreneurs. ibtikar goes above and beyond equity investment to offer expertise and support, to facilitate the development of the media and entertainment industry across the Arab world.