A new Esports and Game Design Academy is scheduled to open in September 2024, with the goal of cultivating future esports stars across all GEMS schools in the UAE. This academy, which will be centrally managed, will offer a scholarship prize fund, giving students a chance to enter the fast-growing fields of competitive gaming and game design while also focusing on their overall development. This move is in line with the UAE's broader strategy to position the country as a global hub for gaming and esports. The Dubai Future Foundation is spearheading this effort with a $1 billion ecosystem aimed at creating 30,000 jobs by 2033.

The UAE's largest school group has reiterated its dedication to leveraging the educational benefits of esports, ensuring that students not only excel in gaming but also develop crucial personal and professional skills in this rapidly expanding industry, which has already surpassed the music and movie sectors combined. Critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership skills are among the key areas of focus.

Sunny Varkey, Group Chairman of GEMS Global and Founder of the Varkey Foundation and GEMS Education, stated, "We believe in the transformative power of innovation. The launch of our Esports and Game Design Academy underscores our commitment to offering students opportunities in leading industries." Students who are passionate about learning can create 2D and 3D games from a young age, and the academy will provide access to industry-level game design education. Esports is not just about gaming; it's about developing critical thinking, teamwork, and leadership skills. We are thrilled to support our students in pursuing their passions and preparing for future success. We look forward to discovering the next generation of esports talent – who might even compete in the Olympics one day.

The academy aims to create a safe and engaging environment for students by selecting age-appropriate games. It will focus on the holistic development of students, emphasizing personal, social, and cognitive skills. The academy will offer a structured platform for learning materials, league participation, competitions, hackathons, accreditations, and qualifications, while also helping students explore career and university opportunities in the gaming industry. It will establish staff esports leads, student ambassador, and leadership groups in each GEMS school with a focus on gaming for good.

Baz Nijjar, Principal Advisor – Education Technology, noted, "The Esports and Game Design Academy is not just about nurturing gaming talent; it’s about creating a dynamic learning environment where students can thrive, develop essential holistic skills, and prepare for the future with transferable skills." We are proud to lead this initiative in the region and look forward to seeing our students excel both in and out of the gaming arena, transferring their skills to support academic and personal development goals.

Nijjar, who is part of the government-backed Dubai Program for Gaming 2033 Working Group, added, "Furthermore, we are committed to providing a safe and secure environment where children can game wisely while learning about wellbeing, food and nutrition, fitness, and mental dexterity – similar to professional esports athletes. The transferable skills gained through esports are invaluable and will benefit our students in all aspects of life." The school group already has a four-year track record in promoting esports and game design, providing its students with opportunities in the sector.