Middle East will be a "major player" in metaverse: reports
Ian Khan, futurist and emerging technology expert for BBC, CNN, NBC and Bloomberg, recently discussed with the Dubai-based news channel Al Arabiya English how the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia and the UAE, is going to become a "major player" in the success of virtual reality worlds known as metaverses.
According to Ian, the Middle East is "one of the fastest technology adoption regions in the world". There are currently a large number of technological movements, especially related to the metaverse, being observed in the region.
He said that the UAE is looking further into the mainstream potential and the economic benefits of virtual worlds, as both private and public sectors are attempting to expand services in metaverse-related business opportunities.
An example of such an endeavour is the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), an economic development agency which aims to build accelerator programs, regulatory sandboxes and incubators to build a technologically advanced society. DFF is hosting a futurist conference later this year, which will cover discussions surrounding the metaverse and its economic and social impact for the foreseeable future, said Ian.
According to reports from the Dubai-based English newspaper Khaleej Times, Dubai-based companies Emirates and Damac have already begun investing into the metaverse. In January 2022, Dubai's Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) launched a new metaverse platform for virtual medical care access. Two months ago, Dubai World Trade Centre announced the MetaIncubator, which is the Middle East's first metaverse incubator.
The National, a newspaper from Abu Dhabi, UAE, recently reported that the Ajman Police has introduced their own metaverse platform, with which the public can meet and talk with the police officers in a virtual setting using online avatars. The Ajman Police metaverse can also be used by the police department employees to virtually communicate with each other.
Another report states that the Dubai-based open world metaverse platform Eikonikos recently raised $2 million in pre-seed funding, which is seen as a big step for the private sectors of Dubai into the realm of online worlds, and a possible inclination towards more metaverse-related investment in the region.
Dubai also recently had its first metaverse wedding. In a ceremony hosted by Florian Ughetto and Liz Nunez, co-founders of the international wedding agency Easy Wedding, the wedding had guests from over 10 different countries. According to a coverage by The National, the dresses were "crafted on the polygon blockchain" and the rings were "exchanged as NFTs". The wedding contracts, reportedly, were signed and issued as digital smart contracts.
In the interview with Al Arabiya English, Ian addressed that Dubai's interest into the Metaverse means that there is potential for the global industry as a whole to invest into virtual worlds. He stated that the Dubai Municipality has recently suggested creating a virtual city for the public, which should be a big game changer in the world of metaverse as we know it.
A recent prediction by Bloomberg stated that over $800 billion can be generated in the metaverse within the next two years.
Ian believes that the Middle East will play a key role in that projected growth. As such, tech giants such as Microsoft, Google and Meta will most likely be expanding business opportunities to the Middle East quite soon, he predicts.
The government of Dubai estimated that over 42,000 new job openings can be achieved if more businesses move to the metaverse, with a projected revenue of around $4 billion, said Ian, who added that these numbers will rise even more if the Middle East's involvement with the metaverse continues as it has been.