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Thu 11 Aug 2011 08:43 AM

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Twofour54 invests $2.5m in online gaming firms

Abu Dhabi deals set to create 50 jobs; firm plans dozen more signings by year-end

Twofour54 invests $2.5m in online gaming firms
Wayne Borg, deputy CEO of twofour54, said the firm is icurrently in deal talks with 10 companies

Twofour54 ibtikar, the investment arm of Abu Dhabi’s state-backed media zone, said Wednesday it had signed investment deals worth $2.5m with two online gaming firms.

The government-owned media firm has taken minority stakes in Arabic online games companies Tahadi Games and Jawaker, in deals that are expected to create tens of new jobs for local youth.

“We are creating meaningful jobs for young people in the UAE,” said Wayne Borg, deputy CEO and chief operating officer for twofour54.

“We are looking about 50 jobs minimum realistically within the first eighteen months.”

Tahadi was established in 2008 by the founders of the Maktoob.com online portal, which was bought by Yahoo in 2009. The company has operations in four Arab states and claims around 700,000 users, and hopes to use the twofour54 investment to bolster its expansion plans.

“The rate of growth we are expecting minimal is 100 percent year-on-year growth and we are well on the path to reach that,” said Steve Tsao, CEO of Tahadi.

Jordan-based Jawaker is a free multiplayer card game website, which claims around 500,000 users.

Twofour54 plays host to around 125 companies in its media zone - including CNN, the Cartoon Network, CNN and Bloomberg – and its investment arm expects to have signed around 12 deals by the close of the year.

“We are currently in discussions with 10 other companies we are looking to attract here… in a number of sectors, not just in the gaming sector,” said Borg. “It’s a tough market, particularly from an advertising perspective, but there are a lot of organisations that see that this region represents tremendous growth opportunities.”

Arabian Business reported in May that twofour54’s media zone might miss its completion date of 2014 after plans to build the tax-free park in Abu Dhabi’s Mina Zayed area fell through.

The zone is currently housed in a temporary campus near Khalifa Park, and the company was understood to be in talks to source a new site for the permanent, 6.5 million sq ft free zone.

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