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Pioneering change: Dubai is stepping up its game to embrace the metaverse

From addressing customer needs in a 3D space to a restaurant that straddles the virtual and physical worlds, the emirate is carving out a piece of the internet’s next chapter.

Pioneering change: Dubai is stepping up its game to embrace the metaverse
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

No, we aren’t in an episode of Black Mirror – the metaverse is here IRL (and virtually). With tech giants, Facebook and Microsoft both staking claims, the metaverse has recently been a hot topic of conversation. This unprecedented creation promises a new experience to millions of people. But what is the metaverse? How is Dubai welcoming it?

The metaverse means different things to different people. More commonly, it blurs the lines between the virtual world and reality.

So, hearing tech CEOs like Mark Zuckerberg and Sundar Pichai talk about the metaverse being the future of the internet can be quite unnerving — a new way of life we’ll be adopting and integrating into our companies.

The term “metaverse” was first coined by Neal Stephenson in his dystopian novel Snow Crash. Released in 1992, the novel is considered a catalyst for this genre and ‘the matrix,’ a virtual reality dataspace coined by William Gibson in his novel Neuromancer.

“This feels like a fairly far-future vision, even though parts of it are visible now and coming together,” said Mark Zuckerberg when announcing the Facebook rebrand last year. “I think overall; it feels like a very maximalist version of what the internet could be.”

THE FUTURE OF SHOPPING AND THE METAVERSE

Some predict the creation of shopping venues in the metaverse when it comes to retail. But this isn’t a high enough ambition. The creation of the metaverse will allow us to break free from physical stores and move light years beyond even the best digital shopping experiences of today. Take a favorite well-known brand, for example, Rolls Royce.

When purchasing a Rolls Royce, you’re not only buying a unique vehicle; you’re part of a global operation of intricate detailing and years of automotive experience. Buying a Rolls Royce in the metaverse will allow you to travel to the headquarters in London (from your home anywhere in the world) and witness your creation coming to life in front of you while enjoying the ornate detailing that goes into the build. Exciting or alarming?

THE FUTURE OF TRAVEL AND THE METAVERSE

Just think about how we currently navigate the streets of a new destination on holiday. Google Maps? Social media? When it comes to travel and tech, we’re already living in the ‘future,’ but the metaverse aims to take it one step further.

Perhaps the most apparent use could be allowing customers to virtual access a property/area before traveling. Imagine seeing the room, testing out the spa facilities, or even the bed in advance allowing you to take more control when deciding where to vacation.

THE METAVERSE AND DUBAI

Dubai will always be a champion for new tech, and the metaverse is no exception. The UAE’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHaP) recently launched the world’s first Metaverse customer happiness service center. The new virtual service is a fresh and easy way to address customer needs in a 3D space while enjoying a digital and interactive sensory experience.

The MoHaP believes VR technology will be playing a much more pivotal role in the UAE’s future, especially in the next 50 years.

Abdul Rahman bin Muhammad Al Owais, Minister of Health and Prevention, says, “The UAE has been a pioneer in accelerating innovation in all vital sectors, including health, while the ministry of health was one of the leading and active authorities in the Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies, which focus on artificial intelligence, blockchain, virtual and augmented reality,”

Although the government has been vital in driving the movement towards the metaverse, Dubai-based companies are also taking it upon themselves to develop their brands.

ColossalBit, a local consultancy company specializing in cryptocurrency, blockchain, and NFTs, has launched a first-of-its-kind restaurant and lounge in Dubai called MetaTerrace. Situated in the Central Park Towers in DIFC, visitors will access MetaTerrace using a VR headset. The one-of-a-kind restaurant combines the digital and physical worlds, allowing people to come together in a digital space, make connections, have drinks, and talk about all things NFT and cryptocurrency.

Ciro Arianna, co-founder and CEO of ColossalBit and MetaTerrace, has high hopes for the project, saying, “MetaTerrace has all the makings to become the center of Dubai’s crypto scene, where enthusiasts and innovators can launch their projects, host meetups, and uphold the community spirit.”

While the interiors of MetaTerrace are still under wraps, it looks like the future of dining is on its way here.

A global virtual movement has also reached Dubai. Metaverse Dubai (a newly formed project) allows you to buy and sell “blocks in Dubai based on a real-world map of the regions” most prime areas, e.g., Downtown, DIFC. MultiTechnology Expert launched this project in the UAE after the success of Metaverse Thailand.

“Metaverse Dubai is stepping up the game to amaze new travelers on a wider scale by becoming the first global virtual NFT platform based on a real-world map. It upholds the concepts of decentralization and NFTs originating from blockchain technology while adding newer infrastructure and more advanced features than its forerunner.”

The current landscape features 220,000 blocks which can only be bought with MVP coins (these can only be purchased at Bitmart and P2PB2B trading exchanges). It is currently exclusive to only MVP coin holders but can branch out to anyone who wants to buy a hex block in ‘Metaverse Dubai’ very soon.

Dubai will always be a front-runner and is showing no signs of slowing down in the future. What should Dubai bring to the metaverse next?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Bilal is a freelance writer currently living in Dubai, specialising in tech and fashion, with an interest in enterprise tech and fast-moving trends both locally in Dubai and globally. More

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