History of Sega in The Gulf

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Bahrain Kuwait Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia United Arab Emirates 
History of Sega in The Gulf
Official Sega distributor(s): Alesayi United (1992-1999), Red Entertainment Distribution (200x-2019), Geekay Distribution (2019-present)

The Gulf or Arabian Peninsula region refers to Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.


Master System manual translated into Arabic

The game consoles as a whole were seen as a widely accepted form of entertainment only when some markets started thriving, and even before, 8 bit computers were seen as the favorite. MSX, specifically was very popular in the Middle East and various independent distributors around this region started working to push these new products into market from the hottest games and console makers from the East and West.

In the 70s Kuwait was one of the countries where Sega imported its game machines.[1]

DOTTS Electronics Division - Alesayi United

DOTTS seal

It has been documented that Sega began distributing in the Gulf Area in 1992 when they entered into a partnership with the DOTTS Electronics Division - Alesayi United from Saudi Arabia. The first console lanuch in the Arabian Peninsula was the Sega Master System II. It is worth noting that Master System, was sold in the most of the countries of that region with PAL-G system, but in Saudi Arabia, version was changed to NTSC. The games were in the European PAL system and DOTTS has translated the instructions for certain games into Arabic.

After Master System II, they started importing the Mega Drive II, which was quite a successful product in the region. The console was released officially in both the European and Asian PAL formats, although the second version was more popular here (the price was lower). All games were distributed in their European versions. Not only certain games had translated instructions, but this time some of the covers had been transfer in Arabic as well. MD had to compete with clones, as piracy was very rampant for every single console. Regarding the piracy of games and consoles, the level of the effectiveness of the piracy varied throughout countries: for example in the United Arab Emirates they were nearly non-existent, however in poorer countries they were easier to find than official games and consoles.

Alesayi United

Translated cover of FIFA Soccer 95
Alesayi United seal

Around 1993-1994, "Alesayi Group of Saudi Arabia" which was the parent of DOTTS put the Alesayi United company in charge of all duties. This company, while maintaining ties with the Alesayi Group, was headquartered and operated from the United Arab Emirates, not from Saudi Arabia. The Game Gear was apparently introduced after Alesayi took over distribution released and was sold in Asian format but games were from European stocks.

The first CD consoles in the region were Sega Mega CD II (presumably released here in the PAL European format) and Neo Geo CD, however they were not very successful. The Mega Drive 32X was also released in the Gulf in Asian PAL system. Sega games that were imported by Alesayi after the end of DOTTS are identified by a round white sticker had company logo and a short message that reads "BEWARE OF IMITATION". This is probably nod to the catastrophe that plagued this region.

In end of July/early August 1995, Sega Saturn was released in the Gulf in European PAL system[2], but before that, system was imported from Japan by some of the retailers[3]. From 1996, Saturn started the fight with Sony PlayStation. Meanwhile, the Mega Drive was still very popular, so the Alesayi Group decided to continue selling it in order to still make money. This console could still be found in stores by the end of the decade. As bootlegs were continued to sell, they began to cater for the low income families of this region, along with the famiclones that were available in bulk in some regions. Moreover, Sega Saturn is known to have performed very poorly and thats why in 1999 Alesayi Group ended their cooperation with Sega.



In this region Sega had competitors:

Nintendo: After the release of Game Boy, Nintendo possibly had multiple distributors throughout the region until 1994/5 when Itochu UAE office became the sole distributor for the whole region, which could have quite possibly covered the UAE before 1994/5, distributing games and consoles of Super Nintendo, Game Boy, and NES again. The situation of Nintendo in this region in the 90s is confusing and odd however it is known for sure that Itochu started distribution of consoles for the whole region later on.

Sony: Around June 1996, the PlayStation was released in Saudi Arabia by the Modern Electronics company and until end of the year to other countries of the region by Sony Gulf.[4] In the end, this console had beaten the Sega Saturn (and Nintendo 64) by a huge margin. Regarding this distributor they have been known to take action for pirated games to push their PAL consoles and games unlike the other distributors who instead chose to ignore this problem. It is worth noting though that by 1998 onwards, the PlayStation had rampant piracy in the region that lasted well into the mid 2010s.

Neo Geo CD: The Neo Geo CD was distributed by Haley Electronics from Saudi Arabia around 1995. This company had many branches around the country where people could have brought this console and its games.

Goldstar 3DO: Introduced officially in 1995, and distributed by LG Electronics representative Yousef M. Naghi United. It's release in Saudi Arabia was heavily marketed, with a party being thrown in Jeddah on the day of the announcement[5], and Naghi United putting ads of the Goldstar 3DO in the first 4 issues of Alaab Alcomputtar.[6][7][8][9]

NEC: The most minor of the competitors, news of their consoles were included in issues of Alaab Alcomputtar[10] and some of their consoles made their way to the region by way of small distributors. One of the most notable is the TurboGrafx , which was included in the pool of possible prizes in the first contest hosted by the magazine.

Philips CDi: Distributed by few retailers but more details are unknown.

Famiclones: Piracy was rampant and so Famiclones from the Taiwan were widely flooded in less richer areas of the Gulf. They were cheaper than the official and superior NES and thats why NES sold poorly in countries such as Saudi Arabia.

Mega Drive clones: Bootleg games and consoles of 16-bit Sega were sold by local distributors as a cheap competition to original Mega Drive with models based on first and second Asian version. In 2000s and even 2010s, clones were still sold here.

Al-Alamiah: AX-660 and AX-990 were released as dual home computers with MSX/Mega Drive features, but it's hard to call it competition because it still used cartridges sold by Sega and was targeted for a computer market rather than a console market.


From the late 2000s, Red Entertainment Distribution was involved in the sale of Sega products[11][12], until 2019 when Geekay Distribution became an exclusive Sega distributor and released Mega Drive Mini[13][14].

Planet Sega BurJuman and Sega Republic also operated in the UAE. Majid Al Futtaim Leisure distributed Sega arcade games in the country.

Sega Toys are distributed by NewBoy.[15]


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