Kuwait-based mobile telecommunications company Zain Group announced Tuesday a new esports brand vertical called Zain Esports, with plans already underway to operate a series of tournaments in the Middle East. Zain Esports will operate the inaugural EA SPORTS FIFA 21 PS4 Tournaments, the Middle Eastern Challenge, which began Tuesday and will run until Dec. 16. The competition is being run in conjunction with Electronic Arts.
In addition, the company has tapped 2018 FIFA eWorld champion and Saudi national Mosaad “Msdossary” Aldossary to promote the competition. Aldossary was brought on through a deal with eGen, a Sydney, Australia-based esports agency and consultancy firm.
The regional tournament will see qualifying rounds taking place Dec. 1 – 5, with playoffs and finals occurring over two consecutive weekends; Dec. 8 – 9, and Dec. 15 – 16, respectively.
While Zain Esports will begin by facilitating FIFA 21 tournaments in the region, a spokesperson for the company told The Esports Observer that it has plans for expansion into other esports titles and is actively in talks with several major rights holders.
Zain Esports said in its announcement Tuesday that it will host “multiple flagship and community events over the next 12 months” offering a combination of cash prizes and merchandise. For example, the Middle Eastern Challenge will offer an undisclosed amount of cash and PS5 consoles, among other things, as prizes.
It’s clear from its announcement that the telecom company was motivated to tap into the younger audience of esports and gaming because of the number of games that customers were playing and watching on their devices. The company claims that it saw a 300% rise in gaming-related data usage since February 2020 across all of its operations – 4G, 5G, and Fiber to the Home (FTTH) services.
Zain Group is a publicly-traded company listed on the Boursa Kuwait stock exchange and operates its mobile telecommunications business throughout the Middle East and Africa. It has a presence in eight countries including Kuwait, Bahrain, Iraq, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and South Sudan. It also has a foothold in Morocco, via a 15.5% stake through a joint venture in INWI. As of September 2020, Zain Group serves 48.9M active customers in these regions.