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Dubai Metaverse Assembly Puts VR at Center of Future Economy

Photo by David Rodrigo / Unsplash

The inaugural Dubai Metaverse Assembly, an event hosted by the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) in the eponymous emirate, reaffirmed the UAE’s forward-looking approach to technology investment.

The two-day Assembly, held at the Museum of the Future and AREA 2071 on September 28-29, featured 300 experts and dozens of tech startups, a lineup that attracted over 40,000 attendees keen to learn about the latest innovations in the metaverse. Topics covered by participants like the WEF, Meta, Binance and Mastercard included the role of governments in open worlds, e-commerce opportunities, electronic games and NFTs.

Dubai’s All-In Bet on the Metaverse

This year’s conference came on the heels of the state’s publication of its official Metaverse Strategy which “aims to turn Dubai into one of the world's top 10 metaverse economies as well as a global hub for the metaverse community.” In practical terms, this concerted push will focus on innovations in VR, AR, mixed reality and so-called digital twins, virtual clones of systems or physical objects.

One of the most interesting things to emerge from this year’s Assembly was a metric called Gross Metaverse Product. “Gross Metaverse Product will be able to create billions of dollars in returns from Dubai without people being physically in the emirate, but experiencing it in the metaverse,” predicted Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Chairman of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy.

Ostensibly, Dubai will become the first country to track this new metric, recording the value generated by metaverse innovations in various sectors including tourism, real estate, retail and government services.

Presumably the results will enable the country to scale back or ramp up its investment in the metaverse, depending on the revenue raised. According to the aforementioned Dubai Metaverse Strategy, the metaverse will add $4 billion to the state’s economy over the coming five years.

The positive mood certainly appears to be trickling down into the Dubai economy. One Dubai-based bank just became the first to recruit via the metaverse. Commercial Bank International (CBI), a corporate and retail bank, carried out interviews in their private virtual environment. Retailer Etisalat has also created a digital clone, enabling customers to ‘tour’ the store from the comfort of their own home. Shoppers even get to interact with each other in the virtual store, as in real life.

At the government level, meanwhile, the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority has launched its own virtual world platform called DEWAVerse, which will enable users to move around digital buildings, interact with customer care agents and complete transactions.

The Metaverse Assembly is set to return in October 2023. By then, the term ‘Gross Metaverse Product’ might just be ubiquitous.