Xbox to be launched in Middle East early next year

Microsoft has told ITP that its long-awaited Xbox game console will 'hopefully' be launched in the Middle East sometime in the first quarter of next year.

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By  Kieran Potts Published  September 15, 2001

Microsoft's long-awaited Xbox game console looks set to be launched in the Middle East early next year. Microsoft Middle East told ITP that, while the US release is 8th November this year, they "hope that Xbox will be released in the Middle East soon after its European release", which is in the first quarter of 2002.

"The Xbox has evinced a lot of interest here in the Middle East and expectations are very high," said Saeib Marashi, HRD Manager of Microsoft in the Middle East. "The tremendous reality of a superior gaming console that is equipped with fantastic features is what gaming enthusiasts here in the Middle East are looking forward to."

Microsoft is heralding the Xbox as being technologically superior to all other game consoles, including the present market leader, Sony's Playstation 2.

Although based on personal computer technology, the Xbox nevertheless boasts a 733 MHz Pentium III processor, a 250 MHz graphics chip from NVidia, 64 MB of memory, a built-in 20 GB hard drive, a CD/DVD player, and an Ethernet connection for broadband online gaming. The Internet service will begin mid next year.

Yet, there is mounting competition in the industry. PS2 was released last year, and Nintendo's new GameCube will be launched in the US three days before the Xbox. Mr Marashi believes, however, that a huge, untapped market for new game consoles exists in the Middle East.

"Also, according to global market forecasts," he says, "the gaming industry will, in the next five years, grow from its present $23 billion to over $80 billion."

Mr Marashi concluded: "In terms of research here in the Middle East, we have done our homework and are confident that a huge gaming market exists here. Since March this year, we have been taking active steps to familiarise the marketplace with our games, gaming devices, entertainment and educational products. For example, during this year's Dubai Summer Surprises, we had set up special stands in City Centre to help children and adults get a first hand experience with Microsoft entertainment and educational products, which proved to be highly popular."

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