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Insomnia — a Middle East gaming convention that is an offshoot of the popular UK gaming event — is kicking off on October 17 and running until October 19 at Meydan Grandstand (Gate B), featuring a line-up of arcade, board, card and video games, cosplay competitions, virtual reality zones and eSports tournaments.

In addition, visitors will be able to meet-and-greet celebrities and content creators and enjoy daily live entertainment on the main stage. Here’s a guide to what’s going down at the three-day event.


All ticket-holders will get a chance to meet-and-greet their favourite stars, from three members of British YouTube group The Sidemen — Josh, Ethan and Tobi — to gaming content creator Seapeekay, the voice of the original Pokemon theme song Jason Paige, video game composer Tommy Tallarico and Arab social media star Fasoleyya. All of the celebrities are expected to be at all three days of the festival and every category of Insomnia tickets includes unlimited meet and greets.

Play all day

There are various ways to play all day at Insomnia. Whether it’s at the Unwind Boardgame Zone, which features more than 50 board games and even intensive tournaments that include the iPhone 11 as a prize, or the Battlepark where you can challenge your friends to an infrared laser gun combat.

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Multiplay Insomnia60 at NEC - James Lawson/iEventMedia Image Credit: James Lawson/iEventMedia

For those who are old school, Retro Zones will have arcade machines, pinball machines and retro consoles (from Nintendo64 to Atari) that are free to play. But if you’re feeling futuristic, you can step into the VR Zone (or the augmented reality HADO Zone), where you and your cohorts can play multiplayer games (of up to 4 people), including Serious Same (The Last Hope) and Face Your Fears 2.

When it comes to eSports, ‘The Road to Insomnia’ concludes in Grand Finals at Insomnia Dubai, where participants will face off for a Dh250,000 prize pool across 12 popular gaming titles.

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Finally, if you’re lucky and you have a Warrior VVIP pass, you may be able to snap up a limited slot to go 1v1 (that’s one versus one, for the uninitiated) against members of the Sidemen in Fifa20, or challenge the Minecraft wizard himself Seapeekay.

Just make sure to visit the Insomnia website to check which experiences need pre-registrations and which are free to be enjoyed on the spot.


No gaming convention would be complete without a cosplay contest and Insomnia delivers with its Cosplay Pro Competition. There will also be a wig workshop, a panel discussion, a children’s’ competition and an awards ceremony.

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Insomnia Gaming Festival i63 at NEC - Matthew King/iEventMedia Image Credit: Matthew King/iEventMedia


Viral video sensation and street players S3 Freestyle Team are flying in from Paris to perform on the main stage. Meanwhile, Jason Paige will perform the Pokemon song live for the first time ever in the Middle East, where he’ll be joined by video game music composer Tommy Tallarico. Tallarico will also be making an announcement from Intellivision Entertainment for the region.

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Multiplay Insomnia61 at NEC - [name]/iEventMedia Image Credit: MatthewKing/iEventMedia

West End Worldwide, the creative team behind dozens of West End productions, will also put on daily game re-enactments, stunts, stage performances and more.

Quiz geeks assembles

If trivia is your strong suit and you thrive under pressure, you’ll want to check out The Gaming Quiz with radio hosts Catboy and Lorra on October 19, from 6pm to 7.30pm. Any ticket-holders can enter, but teams must be a minimum of four and a maximum of eight members. Make sure you pre-register your team online.

After party

Friday night winds down with an After Party for Boss VIP Party ticket holders, from 10pm onwards at Soho Garden on October 18, where stars like the Sidemen are expected to attend.

Tickets and timings

Tickets are available online, ranging from Dh131.25 for a day pass to Dh2,100 for a Warrior VVIP pass. Timings are: October 17 from 2pm until 11pm; October 18 and October 19 from 11am to 11pm.