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)

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

History

Game consoles as a whole were conceived 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. 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.

DOTTS Electronics

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. This company was related to the Alesayi United company. This company was also distributing NES consoles from Nintendo. The sale and advertising of the Sega Master System II console in the Arabian Peninsula began immediately. DOTTS has translated the instructions for the Master System into Arabic. It is worth noting that the second Master System model was promoted, which in the United Arab Emirates was in the PAL G system and in Saudi Arabia in the NTSC version. The games were in the European PAL system. Subsequently, the import of the Mega Drive II, which was quite a successful product in the region, but had to compete with counterfeits, 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 worse countries they were easier to find than official games and consoles.

Alesayi United and the continued success of the Mega Drive

There was a change in who was distributing Sega around 1994. That was because Alesayi Group of Saudi Arabia which was the parent of DOTTS put the Alesayi United games company in charge whose duty replaced DOTTS, which used to distribute games from Saudi Arabia. The Mega Drive II, which was previously distributed along with the Master System by DOTTS, both had continued distribution by the newly established firm. This new company, while maintaining ties with the Alesayi Group, was headquartered and operated from the UAE. Unlike in most regions, the Mega Drive II was actually released officially in both the PAL and Asian formats, but all the known games were distributed in their European versions. The practice of importing hardware from the SEGA offices located in Japan and England, however was officially endorsed. Game Gear was then released (unknown specification but games were in European PAL). Apparently it was introduced only after Alesayi took over distribution. The first CD consoles in the region were Sega Mega CD II, presumably released here in the PAL European format by Alesayi United and Neo Geo CD, however they were not very successful. The Mega Drive 32X was also released in the Gulf in Asian PAL system. From that moment on, the Alesayi United logo began to appear on the boxes more often then DOTTS logo and the switch started to take effect. Around 1996, Sega 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. The company probably kept selling Mega Drive II until at least 1996. 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. Sega Saturn consoles were likely in the PAL system in this region and the games as well, moreover this console is known to have performed very poorly and thats why in 1999 Alesayi Group ceased sales and ended their cooperation with Sega. This left Sega with nobody to deal with the new Dreamcast console, and therefore this console was not officially released here.

Some 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.

Competitors

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 March 1996, Sony PlayStation was released in this region by the Modern Electronics company. 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.


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.


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.

Nowadays

From the late 2000s, Red Entertainment Distribution was involved in the sale of Sega products.

Geekay Distribution is an exclusive Sega distributor since 2019.

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.[2]

References

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