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Dubai Programme for Gaming 2033 (DPG33): The initiative aims to create a global platform in Dubai that brings together digital content creators and provides training and job opportunities in partnership with international companies, universities and academic institutions. Image Credit: Shutterstock

Dubai: Calling all aspiring gaming entrepreneurs! Dubai is poised to become a top 10 global gaming hub, and the Dubai Programme for Gaming 2033 (DPG33) is offering you a chance to be part of the action.

This initiative, launched by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council and overseen by the Dubai Future Foundation, aims to create a global platform for gaming. Here's how DPG33 will help the gaming industry thrive in the UAE:

• Connect with international companies, universities, and content creators.
• Access specialised programmes to hone skills and launch careers.
• Foster a culture of entrepreneurship, providing resources and guidance to turn your ideas into reality.

The setup process has been streamlined by DPG33, so whether you want to set up a game engineering or gaming design company, here are the details you should know.

Steps for starting your gaming business in Dubai

• Identify your business activity – for example: Game development or esports.
• Choose your business structure – sole proprietorship, Limited Liability Company.
• Apply for a trade licence.
• Obtain a metaverse services provider licence (if applicable).
• Secure any additional approvals required for your specific business
• Apply for visas – for yourself and for any employees you will be hiring. Gamers can apply for a 10-year Golden Visa through Dubai Culture.
• Open a bank account.

According to DPG33, if you do plan to set up a metaverse or Web3 startup, make sure to learn the local regulations for operating in the metaverse as well as virtual assets governed by Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA). You will be required to show a detailed business plan and proof of share capital during the setup process.

Find your perfect fit: Dubai’s free zones for gaming

There are several free zones within Dubai which you can consider for a gaming business, according to DPG33. These are:

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC):

• Features - flexi-desks, serviced/private offices, residency visa options, subsidised licences.
• Cost - starting at Dh35,000 per year.
• Setup time - approximately four weeks.
• Physical presence – not mandatory.

What is a flexi desk?
A flexi desk is a co-working space granted to clients on a limited duration basis per week. The flexi desk is not linked to any specific client but may be utilised by multiple clients at different times. Apart from the price, it is usually part of the basic start-up package for a lease when a client sets up their business. It is also known as a Hot desk, Smart desk, or shared desk.

Dubai Internet City (DIC):

• Features - flexi/fixed desks, private offices, residency visas, access to incubators, events, and networks.
• Cost - starting at Dh40,000 per year.
• Set up time - One week.
• Physical presence - required.

Meydan Free Zone:

• Features - flexi-desks, dedicated offices, multiple visa options.
• Cost - starting at Dh12,000 per year (excluding visa costs).
• Setup time - approximately four weeks.
• Physical presence - not mandatory.

Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC):

• Features - flexi-desk co-working, fixed desks, private offices, residency visas, access to incubators, investors, events.
• Cost - starting at Dh15,000 per year.
• Set up time - one week.
• Physical presence - required.

Incubators and accelarators

If you are still in the early stages of developing your business idea, the following Dubai-based incubators and accelerators can be a great place to build your startup:

• Dubai Smart City Accelerator (DSCA)
• Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)
• Animoca
• Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre (DTEC)
• In5
• Astrolabs