Many people mistakenly believe that Arabic culture is just one homogenous shared culture across every Middle Eastern country, but there are actually many differences between cultures like Egyptian, Saudi, UAE and others. 

Different Arabic cultures

Firstly, the Arab world stretches quite far including sections of the Middle East and North Africa like Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Some people define the Arab world as all of those where in Arabic is the key language and where Islam is the dominant religion. Technically places like Turkey and Iran are not Arab countries because they don’t fall into this category.  To be an Arab, much like to be an American, is more of a cultural trait than it is a racial trait. People who utilized the Arabic language are typically referred to as Arabs. A common misconception is that all Arabs are Muslim and almost all Muslims are Arab. Arabs actually represent a very diverse group that can include Arab Christians in places like Iraq, Palestine, and Egypt.  

With a highly developed culture, each area is diverse. Places like Syria and Egypt do not impose the veil on women for example and allow them the freedom to choose. Saudi Arabia relies on a traditional monarchy for its form of government while Egypt and Algeria have parliamentary republics, and Morocco has a constitutional monarchy. In Lebanon parliamentary representation gets divided between different religions whereas, by comparison in Jordan, the king is legitimised because of his lineage purportedly traced to the founder of Islam but the king does not serve in the role of a religious leader. 

Culturalization in Games

Arabic culture is much different from that of the West as well. No matter which of these countries is your focal point, the differences between Western and Middle Eastern cultures is particularly evident as it relates to the Arabic gaming industry.  Many Arabs are strictly religious and believe there should be a religious affiliation and every part of life and society. family loyalty and obligation are particularly important. A big part of the face includes abstaining from things like alcohol, distinct gender roles, distinct roles for children within the household, cultural norms for hospitality, and more.  Many video game companies have actually adopted culturalization into their games, changes that make it more acceptable to a given Arab culture. In other words they change some aspects of the game to better fit their target culture.   

  • Some of the ways these games are changed include removing alcohol references in the game or visuals containing alcohol.
  • Other examples include removing games that are particularly violent or alleviating violent components and a game that has other aspects which could be enjoyed by Arabic cultures. 

So how have things changed in relation to gaming?  FIFA, for example, has updated their games to include local teams and local languages like Arabic, so their games aren’t only in English. UBisoft has also adapted games for Arabic language changes instead of English only and cultural changes. 

Projected Growth

These changes are coming at just the right time, too. Removing the inappropriate components of games and changing the language means companies can reach previously untapped markets, and these markets are scheduled for significant growth. For example, in the UAE, gamers spend an average of $115 per year on new games. Saudi Arabia has already used their burgeoning market to create charity esports events to raise money during COVID.  The Middle East gaming market over the next five years is predicted to grow 12%. Why such a large increase in growth? Online gaming has increased at a significant pace since the start of COVID.  Players around the Arab nations have turned to gaming vendors for improved entertainment in a virtual capacity, and decided to stick with their Arabic gaming websites even after mandates to quarantine come to an end.  Online competitions are increasing, too, with over 50 million customers across the Middle East participating in regional esports tournaments. The increase is so substantial that Dubai has initiated plans to create an esports stadium where the International Esports Federation will host future tournaments in the Middle East. 

Overall, the gaming industry is making changes to ensure that the games they produce comply with the morality of the Muslim faith, and don’t include things like violence or nudity or alcohol. With so many more people across the Arab nations participating in online video games and online casino games, making such strides to respect cultural norms is helping games to launch into the future at the 12% predicted growth rate.