Online Gaming: a Gem for Extra Income

Published January 20th, 2019 - 12:02 GMT
Some Emiratis and expats are already earning more than Dh50,000 each per year. (Shutterstock)
Some Emiratis and expats are already earning more than Dh50,000 each per year. (Shutterstock)

If your full-time job isn't enough to cover the bills, how about taking on competitive online gaming? Some Emiratis and expats are already earning more than Dh50,000 each per year for participating in online gaming tournaments locally and internationally.

An example is a 23-year-old Emirati IT student in Abu Dhabi who has earned nearly Dh55,000 in the past year. Ahmed Al Zaabi plays the multi-player shooting game Overwatch, along with five of his team members.

The team's total earnings from 2017 to 2018 amounted to $89,000 (Dh326,630), which was equally divided among the six players and 20 per cent went to the organisation they represented.

Al Zaabi plays for e-sport firm Inferno Game Zone when he's not busy studying for university. His current team is ranked number one in the UAE in Overwatch, which means he travels to compete in international tournaments, with prize pools of up to $500,000.

"Ever since I started playing games and having fun, I have always liked competing no matter which game it was. I never knew that playing games could actually make money. My friend told me one day to start taking it seriously and advised me to compete professionally," Al Zaabi told Khaleej Times. "But, it's not as easy it sounds. It can be frustrating sometimes because we usually have to practise four to six hours a day and four times a week."

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Al Zaabi hopes to make gaming his main profession, however, he feels there are not enough career opportunities for gamers in the country as the e-sport industry hasn't taken off yet.

He said Overwatch tournaments in the region happen only once every two months, but more frequently in Europe and North America.

Another Emirati who earns off gaming is 29-year-old Obaid Al Mheiri, who plays the multiplayer shooting game Counter-Strike: Global Offensive (CSGO).

Al Mheiri has a bachelor's degree in law, but he is currently unemployed. His total earnings through gaming had been $16,613 (Dh60,969) in the first two years. His first international tournament was in 2011 at Counter-Strike 1.6.

"The best tournament prize I have won is $20,000 (Dh73,400) from the Zowie Extremesland 2018 Asian finals, which was held in Shanghai, China," he said. "I do not take CSGO as my main profession, however, I do play it just because I love the game. The money is just an added value because I love to win tournaments."
He also participates in minor monthly tournaments, which can earn him and his team up to $10,000 (Dh37,000).

A Pakistani expat in Dubai, Hassan Abdullah, also competes in Overwatch. The 25-year-old, who has a degree in business systems information, wants to pursue gaming as a profession.

He and his team recently took part in a tournament, which was organised for a good cause. "The biggest tournament I won was the Pro Amp Fortnite invite-only tournament in 2018 at the Yas Gaming Festival. The prize was Dh20,000, which was for charity and was donated to Emirates Autism Centre," Abdullah said.

"The UAE and the region have quite a few tournaments. We usually have one or two big tournaments per year, however, I try to make sure I participate in all of them. I usually play weekly online tournaments every Saturday and Sunday."

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