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Dubai Steps into the Metaverse with a new Tech Strategy

🗣 The crown prince of Dubai has his eyes set on the digital world. Because of that, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) most populous city, launched a major metaverse strategy in a bid to become one of the top 10 extended reality (XR) economies worldwide.

Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announced a new “metaverse strategy” that he says will create 40,000 new virtual jobs and add $4 billion to the city’s GDP in five years. Dubai should remain a significant tech hub for the Metaverse and developing digital solutions.

💡 The strategy emphasizes fostering talent and investing in future capabilities by providing the necessary support in metaverse education aimed at developers, content creators, and users of digital platforms in the metaverse community. Details on how the strategy will be carried out are scant, but the pillars of the plan include fostering “metaverse innovation and economic contribution,” cultivating metaverse talent and developing metaverse use cases and applications within the Dubai government.

Following the country’s AI Strategy to become a tech leader in emerging technologies, the initiative aims to create a network of virtual spaces and improve the quality of life for citizens with metaverse

The country also intends to outline future work models across multiple sectors and explore the Metaverse’s effects on global economies. Doing so would drive Dubai and the UAE’s goals to reshape the nation with positive impacts on people’s lives.

What is the Dubai Metaverse Strategy?

🗣 Dubai’s Metaverse plans hope to increase and target research and development (R&D) goals and attract global tech companies to the city while building ecosystems for emerging technologies. This includes virtual, augmented, mixed, and extended reality (VR/AR/MR/XR), digital twins, 5G, edge computing, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), the blockchain, machine learning (ML), the internet of things (IoT).

According to the initiative, Dubai will enter a phase of developing several key emerging technologies, including artificial intelligence (AI), web3, the blockchain, and many others. It also hopes to attract over 1,000 firms to realize the initiative with other 40,000 digital professions up to 2030.

Dubai’s Metaverse Strategy also aims to fuel its national economy and back efforts to quintuple blockchain firms from current figures, along with educating future developers, users, and content creators on building current and future web3-based communities.

The initiative will also target national tourism, remote work and collaboration, healthcare, legal, education, retail, and other key sectors, and aims to collaborate on setting global metaverse standards for infrastructure and regulations.

Attracting crypto and early metaverse experiments

🗣 The latest metaverse announcement from Dubai is in line with the city’s ambition to attract more emerging technology and crypto companies. In March, Dubai passed its first law dealing with virtual assets and established the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority for crypto companies, which has already granted licenses to some of the world’s biggest crypto exchanges to operate there, including Binance and the European subsidiary of FTX.

Lured by a crypto-friendly government, the crypto exchange Bybit said it would open its global headquarters in Dubai while exchanges and FTX have both said they would establish a presence in the city.

As for the metaverse, some of Dubai’s biggest companies have said they are increasingly incorporating the technology into their businesses.  Dubai-based airline Emirates said in April that it would expand its use of the metaverse and NFTs. Damac Group, a conglomerate of businesses including global property development company Damac Properties and fashion house Roberto Cavalli, said in April it would invest $100 million to build digital cities in the metaverse.

And UAE health care firm Thumbay Group plans to release a metaverse hospital by October of this year, where patients can consult with a doctor virtually, Dubai English-language newspaper Khaleej Times reported in June.

High ambitions for the economy

🗣 The UAE has big dreams when it comes to business in general and has said that Web3 is a big part of them. The Arab nation wants to double the size of its economy in the next 10 years, and at a panel, for the World Economic Forum last April, United Arab Emirates minister of economy Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri said crypto, and tokenization will be key to achieving that goal.

As Sheikh Hamdan aims to transform the United Arab Emirates’ most populous city into one of the world’s “top 10 metaverse economies,” he also wants to contribute to the UAE’s goal of increasing the number of blockchain companies in the country fivefold, from 1,000 to 5,000, in five years, according to the WAM announcement.

In the area of augmented reality and virtual reality, which play a part in the overall metaverse economy, the UAE currently hosts a total of 6,700 jobs which contribute $500 million to the UAE’s economy, according to WAM.

In April, global investment bank Citi said that the potential size of the metaverse market around the world could be between $8 trillion and $30 trillion by 2030. But other companies, like Big Four accounting firm KPMG, have said these figures could be too conservative. As for the UAE specifically, augmented reality and virtual reality technologies alone could contribute $4 billion to the UAE, or 1% of its GDP, by 2030, according to a 2020 report by management consulting firm PwC.

Dubai Metaverse Assembly

🗣 The news comes ahead of Dubai’s Metaverse Assembly event set to take place 28-29 September, at the Museum of the Future and Emirates Towers, where over 300 tech experts, 40 organizations, as well as lawmakers, policymakers, and others, are set to attend to promote the novel virtual platform.

According to figures from the report, VR and AR contribute 6,700 jobs and $500 million USD to the country’s economy and are set to increase over time. Globally, virtual land sales also skyrocketed by over $500 million last year and earned $13 billion USD in financing in the same period.

A host of other countries and regions, including the United States, European Union, South Korea, Saudi Arabia, Croatia, China, Barbados, Japan, and many others have rallied support for the Metaverse. This, amid a competitive market, to launch and deploy such technologies, build global standards, and facilitate the rise of new use cases for the platform.

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