Just like many fields of tourism, tech, business, or infrastructure, Dubai is far ahead of everyone in the Metaverse field as well. Dubai paved the way for the whole world to move into the universe of Metaverse by heavily investing resources and focusing on the field. Especially during the last couple of weeks, Dubai has changed its gear towards metaverse-related activity and the whole world is still in awe of the things Dubai has shown. Not only did the city host the World Metaverse Show and the Dubai Metaverse Assembly, but GITEX showcased the tech in all its glory while some important announcements were also made.
With each passing day Dubai is accelerating its ‘metaverse strategy’, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) launched its ‘DEWAVerse’ platform, becoming the first local government organization to provide services via the new technology that some say is the future of how people will interact on the internet. According to HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, CEO of DEWA,
“The Move boosts the Dubai Metaverse Strategy that aims to turn Dubai into one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies as well as a global hub for the metaverse community, to enhance its success in this field.”
DEWAVerse includes a customer service center as well as DEWA Workplace, which enables users to move around its buildings and hold meetings in the virtual world. DEWA Future Lab enables users to hold brainstorming sessions, while DEWA Onboarding allows new employees to learn about DEWA’s vision and mission virtually.
Before we dive deep into the strategies of Dubai which made them the leader of Metaverse. We would like to answer the most basic question;
What is the Metaverse?
Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg has described the metaverse as “an embodied internet where you’re in the experience, not just looking at it.” Another way of understanding it is that it’s a shared virtual space that exists online and is interactive, immersive, and hyper-realistic. You can create an avatar and enter the metaverse using tech like augmented or virtual reality. A basic form of the metaverse is an online game like Fortnite or Roblox where users have an avatar that is used to engage with other players.
The metaverse in more complex languages is the integration of augmented reality (AR), virtual reality (VR), cryptocurrencies, internet of things (IOT), 5G internet, 3D modeling, artificial intelligence (AI), cybersecurity, and non-fungible tokens (NFTs).
Many companies who have specialized in these sectors saw renewed investment and new firms are setting up shop every day in a bid to cash in on the metaverse. This has also given birth to mini-crypto hubs such as Dubai and Singapore, digital asset management firms, 3D modeling firms, and AI companies.
How Dubai Is Excelling in Metaverse?
Some answers were presented at the World Metaverse Show, where experts had different estimates as to when the metaverse will reach its true potential. Binh Dang, CIO of Bizverse, which aims to build a metaverse for business activities, said the metaverse will become a reality in the next three years, with Facebook parent Meta leading the way.
Meanwhile, Zen Zijlstra, Portfolio Analyst at Hatchworks, told Business Recorder it would take “some five to ten years till we see really working projects that are working inside the metaverse”.
However, Harpreet Bhatia – Co-Founder & CEO – of Ibentos, is more optimistic. His company helps companies host brand experiences in the metaverse. He believes in some ways the metaverse is more than just a mere dream and kid’s cartoon fantasy. He explains the concept as;
“It has already started happening, right? Brands like Meta have already launched the Oculus store. If you have (an) Oculus (VR headset), you can just download and enjoy the applications on it”
How can Metaverse enhance Tourism?
Binh Dang said that what excites him most about the metaverse is the “teleport function”.
“In real life, if you want to go here to another country, you need to do a lot of procedures like you need a visa, bookings, etc. But in the metaverse, you can immediately teleport to the place you want to go to and you can experience it before you decide to go there.”
According to Bhatia, if you want to visit Niagara Falls in Canada, one way of going about it is: you see a video or a picture and you book a ticket. Another way is, why don’t you experience it in the metaverse first? If that is something of your liking, you book it and when you see it on the Oculus, trust me, that is something that I cannot explain in words. It is totally immersive. You will feel that you are there. Meanwhile, Zijlstra said the metaverse is the perfect way to “escape reality.”
“If I want to travel to Dubai for example, I can travel inside the metaverse and explore the city there. There are so many things that could bring value to people’s lives in terms of education or doctors who can practice surgeries using simulations.”
Other updates At GITEX, one of the world’s biggest tech shows that is held in Dubai, there were several exciting announcements. The Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority has launched Sharjahverse, a metaverse tourism platform.
Dubai Airport Freezone (DAFZ) launched METADAFZ, which will enable clients from across the globe to conduct meetings via a virtual platform. Away from GITEX, Thumbay Group said it is working on building a full-fledged virtual hospital in the metaverse to provide patients with an immersive healthcare experience. From multiple doctors consulting a case in a virtual clinic to first aid and preventive health programs using AR/VR and AI technologies, the metaverse hospital aims to provide state-of-the-art healthcare. Phase one of the project is expected to go live by the end of the year. Medcare Hospitals & Medical Centers has also launched its first hospital in the metaverse.
That’s not all. Sensorium, the company behind the Sensorium Galaxy metaverse, confirmed its expansion into the UAE via new offices in Dubai. CEO Vladimir Kedrinsky said during the ceremony that;
“Dubai is quickly becoming a global hub for companies in the metaverse and Web3 space. By establishing a local presence in Dubai, we will be able to collaborate more closely with key players in the space, and establish long-lasting relations in the MENA region,” said Sensorium Dubai Metaverse Assembly held at the end of September, Microsoft highlighted how immersive technology can close the skills gap, catalyze the Fourth Industrial Revolution, drive augmented reality-enabled workplaces and improve worker safety. Meanwhile, Binance plugged users into the evolution of gaming and metaverse finance and Metamall offered to retail and real estate through a virtual lens through a variety of solutions including test tokens and customized avatars.
The Dubai Metaverse Assembly is the first event of its kind since His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum approved the Dubai Metaverse Strategy in July. The strategy aims to add $4 billion to Dubai’s GDP, support 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030, and attract 1,000 companies specializing in blockchain and metaverse technologies to turn Dubai into one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies.