I will not deny that I was a little nervous for my first trip to the Middle East… When I first got the invite to keynote the MENA Games Conference in Beirut, I was honored but also a bit trepidatious. All was for not, as the trip was wonderful with nary a scare.

Several hundred game industry types descended upon Beirut, Lebanon for the first ever developer focused conference in the region. The event started to great fanfare, with the Minister of Telecom opening the conference and announcing the government’s support for the game industry.

MENA Games was well organized, especially for a first time event, and collected developers and industry folks from across the entire region. The Arab Game Jam had teams from Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Bahrain, etc. It was a great introduction to a high potential region.

Downtown Beirut.

Lots of cool graffiti and street art in the city.

Developers working during the Arab Game Jam.

Welcome! First time a conference venue has had barbed wire to protect!

Conference was on historical train station grounds. This building was part of the Orient Express.

One of the old train engines.

Lebanon’s Minister of Telecom opening the conference and pronouncing support for games.

Panel on publishing into the MENA region.

Winners/participants of the Arab Game Jam.

Church and mosque side-by-side in downtown Beirut.

The mosque lit up at night.

Lovely Place d’Etoiles in downtown.

Inside the Natural History Museum (happened to be free access “night at the museum” week).

The Rouche rocks off the coast. Reminded me of the Apostles in Australia.

Up the cable car in the Harissa area…

Old churches in Byblos.

Byblos was an early Phoenician settlement… origins of the alphabet come from here.