The United Arab Emirates has been able to achieve a prominent international position in technologies and related future concepts. This has appeared in a number of indicators, one of which is great interest in Metaverse technology. This interest is reflected in a number of policies, legislation, programs, and initiatives aimed at anticipating this technology in a way that keeps pace with global changes, supports state-owned components, and enhances the UAE’s economic presence as a leading global destination.
Fields of Interest
The UAE’s interest in Metaverse technology is reflected in multiple fields, most prominently:
1. Taking advantage of the Metaverse in the aviation sector: Emirates airline is working on launching non-fungible tokens (NFTs) for its customers and employees, and seeks to build its distinctive brand in the Metaverse. Emirates previously announced the reallocation of its pavilion at Expo 2020 to become a center for innovation aimed at attracting talent from all over the world. This is to implement future projects, including projects related to the Metaverse, NFTs, and Web3, using advanced technologies on the one hand and strengthening partnerships with various industry leaders on the other. It is worth mentioning that last year, Emirates launched its virtual reality (VR) application on the Oculus Store, which provides users with accurate, interactive, true-to-life experiences.
2. Technical support for police work: The Ajman Police General Headquarters has launched a Metaverse project to hold virtual meetings with various clients in order to enhance cooperation, involve them in designing and developing services, and facilitate meetings without the need to be personally present at the police station. Notably, the platform designed for these goals offers a different experience that simulates the real world, and ensures the provision of proactive services. The project is part of the "A’awen" initiative implemented by the Ajman Police General Headquarters to involve various clients in the design and development of services, and to collect their opinions, suggestions, and comments in order to improve and develop the services provided. Prior to it, officers held in-person meetings with various citizens, and decided to explore the use of virtual meetings to make it easier for all those for whom it is difficult to visit the police station.
3. Plan to establish the Global Collaboration Village: Dubai plans to create a virtual, digital twin city to offer great industry opportunities and provide residents with an alternative reality that enables them to communicate and exchange ideas, combining elements of social media, augmented reality, virtual reality, video games, cryptocurrencies, and other technologies. The Davos Forum—in its latest version—also saw the UAE announce the launch of the Global Collaboration Village, in partnership with international organizations, governments, the private sector, and community institutions worldwide. It is as close as possible to a small village in the Metaverse world, in a way that ensures finding solutions to pressing global challenges and developing a new vision for regional and global agendas.
4. Government emphasis on the importance of virtual assets: The Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) has announced the establishment of its headquarters in the virtual world "The Sandbox." It is the first regulator in the world to enter the Metaverse, in the belief that virtual assets are an integral part of the future digital economy. This confirms its preparedness to consolidate the emirate’s position as the virtual assets capital of the world. It is worth mentioning that the Dubai VARA was established this past month under the emirate’s first law regulating virtual assets. This authority aims to help attract investments and companies working in the virtual assets field to use the emirate as a center for their business, and to provide the systems needed to protect investors and dealers in virtual assets.
5. Expansion in the virtual real estate field: UAE virtual real estate in the Metaverse has seen strong demand and reception recently. A large portion of the digital real estate in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah, and the rest of the country’s emirates has been acquired by selling platforms as non-fungible digital assets in exchange for specific digital currencies. In this context, some financial experts believe that investing in Metaverse platforms, estimated at around 150 platforms around the world, is only a bet on the future, and a facture for creating the wealthy of tomorrow, provided that it is through platforms affiliated with major companies such as Facebook.
UAE interest in investing in the Metaverse has a number of implications, most prominently:
1. Supporting the UAE’s economy and creating investment opportunities: The UAE’s efforts to invest in various Metaverse fields aim to achieve multiple goals, including opening new markets and creating new investment opportunities in Dubai. They aim to raise the total contribution of Metaverse sectors in Dubai alone to $4 billion by 2030, and increase its contribution to Dubai’s GDP. They also seek to improve the performance of medical surgeons by 230%, increase the production speed of engineers by 30%, create around 42,000 virtual jobs, and facilitate cooperation between virtual asset service providers, among other goals.
2. Shaping an integrated vision for a presence in virtual space: The UAE aims to consolidate its presence in virtual space through a number of axes covering various service, legislative, and regulatory aspects in such a way as to ensure the optimal activation of its presence in the virtual world. It also aims to ensure the construction of a new economic sector that serves the national economy and contributes to providing investment and economic opportunities for clients by providing safe and sustainable regulatory solutions so the international community can optimally benefit from the virtual economy.
3. Dedication to the UAE’s global leadership: The UAE aims to consolidate its position as the virtual assets capital of the world, so as to inaugurate a new stage of providing governmental and non-governmental services to an open, cross-border audience through modern futuristic tools, bringing about a new technological stage with a positive long-term impact. It seeks to do so in order to enable the virtual assets sector to gain economic flexibility, expand its social scope, and help it achieve environmental sustainability. In recent study of online search and marketing services published by BrokerChooser showed the UAE ranked fourth in the world, after Singapore, New Zealand, and Hong Kong, in terms of interest in the Metaverse.
4. Taking advantage of promising opportunities in the Metaverse field: The volume of economic investments in the Metaverse on one hand, and the volume of demand for its virtual real estate on the other, points to the accelerating pace of virtual technologies that will change the future of the internet. The world’s reliance on various technologies has become inevitable in multiple parts of life. According to a report by Bloomberg Intelligence’s information unit, the size of the Metaverse market will reach $800 billion in 2024. Without a doubt, its technologies will contribute to the emergence of creative projects and industries in accordance with market dynamics and the expansion of the cryptocurrency field.
5. Multiplying market value of digital real estate: Investing in virtual real estate has become a global trend. This market is witnessing global demand for its digital assets, amid fears that some platforms could disappear or not continue. However, betting on virtual real estate assets remains feasible if it is associated with the platforms of major companies, taking into account that the market value or prices of real estate in the Metaverse are determined by supply and demand. The UAE in general, and Dubai in particular, will be a pioneer in adopting Metaverse technology given its advanced digital infrastructure and regulatory and investment-encouraging legislation.
This year, the international company Meta opened its regional headquarters in the UAE. This move underscored the importance and multiplicity of the UAE’s efforts to create an attractive and competitive business environment that supports innovation and attracts the best talent and competencies. The coming period is expected to see an expansion in the number of initiatives and programs aimed at exploring promising economic opportunities in digital space, taking advantage of the technical components owned by the state, on the basis of high-readiness digital infrastructure.