BattleZone to hold first National Championships in United Arab Emirates
Dubai-based specialty hobby store, BattleZone, has announced it shall hold the first National Championships for the Pokémon Trading Card Game (TCG) in the United Arab Emirates (U.A.E.). As an event officially sanction by The Pokémon Company, winners of these tournaments will be presented with the opportunity to participate in the upcoming 2016 Pokémon World Championships to be held in the United States. Interested players must register an account on the Play! Pokémon website to be able to partake in the tournament. Registration is on a first-come, first-served basis.
The U.A.E.'s first Trading Card Game National Championships will be held in BattleZone's store venue at the Jumeirah Centre in Dubai, on June 2, 2016. The event will start at 05:00 pm and ends at 09:00 pm. Further details will be disclosed closer to the event.
As mentioned earlier, this is BattleZone's first Pokémon National Championships event they will hold, and is the first officially sanctioned Pokémon Championships event in the U.A.E. and the Middle East region overall. BattleZone has been authorized by The Pokémon Company to hold official Play! Pokémon TCG tournaments since circa January 2016, although BattleZone has been holding various Pokémon-based TCG tournaments for a few years prior.
Founded in 2011, BattleZone is a white market, specialty retailer store chain for world-building game hobbyists and enthusiasts based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. It deals in several major trading card game franchises including, but not limited to, Magic the Gathering, Warhammer, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Dungeons & Dragons, and of course Pokémon. In addition to selling TCG products, they are licensed to hold tournaments and events based on these franchises, primarily within their store venue. BattleZone were instrumental in making the U.A.E. officially eligible for Play! Pokémon events as of January 2016.
BattleZone is one of the first white market retailers to gradually re-introduce the Pokémon Trading Card Game in the U.A.E. since the early 2010s; in 2001, the Pokémon franchise came under great scrutiny when the Islamic Grand Mufti of Saudi Arabia at the time issued a fatwā against the franchise based on false pretenses, and it affected neighboring countries, including the U.A.E.. However, contrary to popular belief, a commercial ban was never issued by the government in the U.A.E., but despite that the original distributors of the Pokémon TCG decided to discontinue trade regardless for non-disclosed reasons, albeit other Pokémon products, including the video games, reappeared in stores shortly after the controversy subsided. Until the 2010s, resident enthusiastic Pokémon TCG collectors had to import from other countries or hunt for the limited quantities sold in the local grey market. The Pokémon franchise was originally introduced in the U.A.E. with the launch of the English versions of Pokémon Red and Blue in 1998, but the franchise did not commercially peak until the Pokémon anime first aired on local television in 2000.
- Hosting small-scale competitive events in the U.A.E. is prohibited without a proper permit, due to fears and previous experiences of rising illegal gambling rings.