This country will open a ministerial office in the Metaverse

The United Arab Emirates hopes the metaverse can add $4 billion to annual GDP and 40,000 jobs by 2030. (Representation)


The United Arab Emirates, which already owns the tallest skyscraper in the world and has launched a daring mission to Mars, now hopes to pioneer the depths of the metaverse.

As part of a project launched at Dubai’s glittering Future Museum, the UAE’s Ministry of Economy has been announced as moving into the immersive virtual world that is taking shape.

Those who don their virtual reality goggles or use other means to venture inside will find a ministry open to business with companies and even willing to sign bilateral agreements with foreign governments, officials said.

The metaverse is an online world where users will one day be able to play, work and study, its supporters claim, although it is still in the “testing phase”, the UAE economy minister admitted.

Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri was speaking at the inaugural meeting of Dubai’s Metaverse, held at the museum, whose innovative ring shape decorated with Arabic calligraphy lines the city’s main thoroughfare.

Representatives of tech giants mingled with entrepreneurs and developers to explore the potential of the metaverse, a network of digital spaces designed as an extension of the physical world.

“In the last two years we’ve seen investment, we’ve seen businesses set up and with the changes in the (visa) regime… we’re seeing talent coming in,” Al Marri said in an interview with AFP..

“We’ve trained our people to really immerse themselves in the metaverse, use the metaverse and engage with Gen Z that’s coming,” he added.

The United Arab Emirates, which has already completed bold projects including the 830-meter Burj Khalifa, hopes the metaverse can add $4 billion to annual GDP and 40,000 jobs to its workforce by 2030.

In its bid to become one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies, Dubai wants to attract 1,000 companies specializing in blockchain and related technologies, aided by relaxed visa rules for freelancers, entrepreneurs and creatives.

As the coronavirus pandemic has pushed more people into the online world, “Covid has really accelerated” this trend, Al Marri added.

“We thought the metaverse is an incremental technology” that could take 10 to 20 years to emerge, he said. “Covid-19 has really immersed us so quickly and accelerated the use of the metaverse.”

Virtual journeys to Mars

Unlike Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich capital of the United Arab Emirates, crude represents only 5% of Dubai’s economy, which has turned to trade, tourism, real estate and new technologies.

The United Arab Emirates has already introduced a law regulating virtual assets and a cryptocurrency regulator, while hosting major cryptocurrency exchanges.

One of the UAE’s first private sector metaverse projects is called 2117, named after Dubai ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid’s dream of colonizing Mars a century from now.

Metaverse users can now purchase tickets to join a virtual shuttle ferrying settlers to the Red Planet.

“Many of us will not live long enough to see this mission with our own eyes,” said Amin Al Zarouni, the founder of the Bedouin startup behind the virtual journey to Mars.

“We will try to replicate this experience in the metaverse. »

So far, use of Metaverse is niche, and even its architects say widespread adoption is years away. We don’t know how it will develop.

According to Meta, owner of Facebook and other social media, Analysis Group studies have shown that the metaverse could add $360 billion to the GDP of the Middle East, North Africa and Turkey in 10 years if it follows the growth model of mobile technology.

“We also know that when policy supports innovation, it accelerates the adoption of new technologies,” the firm said when asked about Dubai’s prospects of becoming a metaverse hub.

“If we look at the Dubai context, there is already a clear strategy and goal to accelerate metaverse adoption and investment in metaverse building blocks. »

(With the exception of the title, this story has not been edited by staff and is published from a syndicated feed).

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