MEPI Announces a Funding Opportunity to Advance U.S. Economic Interests in the MENA Region While Bolstering the Nascent eSports Industry


The Department of State’s Middle East Partnership Initiative (MEPI), a program within the Bureau of Near East Affairs Office of Assistance Coordination (NEA/AC), announces a Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) for projects designed to advance U.S. economic interests in the MENA region while bolstering the nascent eSports industry. This initiative will advance and promote the industry to become a part of the mainstream private sector, encouraging formalization of business development and economic growth.  through partnerships, technical assistance, and joint ventures with the private sector from the U.S. and other regions, this initiative will develop and implement business strategies and models to monetize the industry.  Further, it will create a viable career option for youth in the region by participating on teams or by producing innovative regional and local gaming and eSports content. The NOFO will close on August 01, 2018. For more information on how to apply, please visit:

Electronic sports (eSports) refers to organized video gaming events or tournaments that
culminate in championships at a regional and/or international level, with professional and
amateur players competing against one another. eSports is an emerging market poised for great
potential in the Middle East and North Africa region. Shared revenue of the video gaming
industry in the Middle East was conservatively valuated at $3 billion in 2017, with the largest
markets including Turkey, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates, according to
Statista. The eSports industry has already generated $1.5 billion in revenue in 2017 and is
projected to bring in $2.3 billion by 2022, according to SuperData. In 2017, Middle East and
Africa were estimated to have 587 million online gamers. The MENA market is currently
growing at a rate of 25 percent yearly, and the region is ahead of other fast growing markets such
as Latin America at 13.9 percent growth and East Asia/ Pacific region at 9.2 percent growth. The
MENA market also contrasts with larger markets where growth is slowly stagnating – such as
North America (4 percent) and Western Europe (4.8 percent).

Through this funding opportunity, NEA/AC seeks to develop this emerging market and promote
U.S. economic interests by encouraging the U.S. private sector to both invest in and facilitate
partnerships in the nascent eSports industry in the MENA region. Activities may include but are
not limited to: introducing new ways of monetizing teams, players, and sponsorships; media
rights/promotion, regular competitions and platform development, locally-developed games,
league infrastructure, etc. This initiative will spur the growth of eSports in the region and help
address some hurdles to making it a financially viable career option for the region’s youth.
Eligible Countries and Territories:
In this announcement, we seek to support projects with activities in Algeria, Bahrain, Israel,
Jordan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and Tunisia. Locations of activities and project
beneficiaries will be determined through program design and implementation. No activities may
physically take place in United Arab Emirates, Egypt, Yemen, Syria or Iraq. As a program
intended to benefit MENA stakeholders, the majority of activities should take place in the
MENA region.