Since Facebook has renamed itself 'Meta,' everyone is keen to know what it means and its likely effects on human lives. Metaverse is a buzz in every corner of the world and holds immense potential to lower the gap between real & virtual worlds and change how we all live & interact. So what is the Metaverse, Exactly?
Well, the Metaverse involves a 3D digital environment that virtually creates real-life objects where one can catch up with friends or family, attend music concerts, trade in real estate, etc., and all of this is possible through technologies like AR (Augmented Reality), VR (Virtual Reality), AI (Artificial Intelligence), the IoT (Internet of Things), & VR headsets, among others.
Rapid advances in telecommuting and the emergence of new trends, i.e., demonstrating a growing inclination of people toward virtual spaces & digital communication modes, are among the major reasons behind the ever-increasing need for Metaverse technologies, which, in turn, are creating a web or video conferencing platform to provide people with immersive experiences while interacting online, and clearly, the younger generation is most likely to become their major end-user. In view of these aspects, a recent research report has revealed that the UAE Metaverse Market is set to register around 28% CAGR during 2023-28.
The UAE has a vibrant gaming culture and the highest number of adult gamers globally. The booming gaming industry has a large & rapidly growing audience showing active interest in immersive, interactive experiences through which they can connect with others and explore new virtual environments, which, consequently, has instigated the development of new technologies & platforms that support the metaverse ecosystem.
What’s latest in the UAE Metaverse Industry?
In 2023, VARA (Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority) released a set of regulations called the Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023 (the "Regulations"), which apply to all providers of virtual asset services. These new regulations aim at enhancing investor confidence & promoting market growth in the virtual asset sector.
In 2022, the Abu Dhabi government launched the AD Gaming platform to transform the emirate into a global hub for gaming & e-sports. The same year, the Dubai government conducted Dubai E-sports Festival, which brought together gamers, industry professionals, and fans to celebrate the latest trends & advancements in gaming. With technologies like virtual & augmented reality, immersive audio, and social interaction platforms, e-sports have become increasingly in the UAE.
In addition, the Sandbox, in 2022, during the 62nd edition of the 'True Global Ventures Conference,' announced that it would develop a Metaverse City, 'Dubaiverse,' in Dubai, for which local partnerships, including companies in industries like film, music, entertainment, acting, finance, real estate, & gaming, would be utilized.
Moreover, NFTs are gaining traction in the metaverse world as investors & developers have recognized the immense potential of monetization using them. The UAE is becoming a global hub in the field of NFTs due to a surge in their buying, selling, & creation. They are now being utilized widely for ownership establishment, monetizing digital creations, and enabling interoperability in the technological ecosystem.
Like other developments in the industry, the year 2022 also witnessed the emergence of several NFT marketplaces in the UAE due to the penetration of startups and cryptocurrency exchanges. Hence, with these aspects, the market is currently witnessing considerable growth in funding, and as NFTs become more accepted in applications like virtual real estate & unique virtual assets, a further rise in investments can be expected in the future.
The UAE has a swiftly growing population of tech-savvy young people enthusiastic about exploring new technologies. The presence of a supportive regulatory framework for startups & emerging technologies, as well as the robust digital infrastructure and the increasing government interest in virtual ecosystems, are creating opportunities for metaverse-related companies to develop new platforms & technologies.
In 2022, the Dubai government launched Metaverse Strategy, which aims to attract more than 1,000 companies in the blockchain & metaverse domain and generate more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030. In line with this, the government would provide the necessary support to developers, content creators, and digital platform users in the metaverse community, which, consequently, will create a favorable environment for both innovations & investments and create lucrative prospects for the metaverse industry in the UAE over the coming years.