Gaming market is expected to nearly triple in size, from $1.6 billion in 2014 to $4.4 billion in 2022.

Video game and e-commerce markets are growing exponentially across the Middle East and North Africa, driven by the mobile phone revolution and new youth-produced content, according to a study.

The gaming market is expected to nearly triple in size, from $1.6 bn in 2014 to $4.4 bn in 2022, as reported in the study conducted by consulting firm ‘Strategy&’ and the Abu Dhabi based ‘twofour54’ media regulatory (initiative by the Abu Dhabi government to create an Arabic media & entertainment industry for the MENA.)

“Gaming in the region is growing faster than the global average, exceeding even other fast-growing emerging markets such as Russia, China and South Korea,” Strategy& partner Jayant Bhargava said.

So far global games from international developers have captured about 90% of the regional market.

But games tailored for local users are expected to increase and capture more than 15% of the market within 3 to 5 years.

“Accelerated adoption of mobile technology, evolutions in paid and digital media and a new wave of unique youth-produced content will be key factors in driving media growth in the region,” it said.

E-commerce will be a “critical source of digital growth,” according to the study, estimating that the $2.3 bn market would grow by 13% each year up to 2019.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are expected to maintain their combined share of almost 40% of the total market up to 2020, said the study, published on the side-lines of a media summit that opened Tuesday in Abu Dhabi.  The regional audio-visual content market is also undergoing significant changes, led by the transition to paid television.

The study estimates that pay TV will grow by 10.3% a year, compared with 7.8% for ad-based TV.  However, satellite TV dominates the sector, accounting for more than 95% of TV distribution.

Meanwhile, Facebook vice president for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa Nicola Mendelsohn said the number of active monthly users of the social network in the Arab world has reached 74 million, with 80% of them connecting from their smart phones.  That is an increase from 56 million active users in October 2013.

It is worth remembering that activists in several Arab countries have used Facebook and other social networking sites as a speedy, anonymous and efficient engine to organise protests and campaigns that swept the region in the 2011 ‘Spring’.