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Welcome to the Sharjahverse: UAE City Gets the Metaverse Treatment

Photo by isco / Unsplash

Sharjah is aiming to become the world’s first metaverse city. But what does that actually mean? Well, for starters, it means that residents and visitors of the UAE’s third most populous city will soon be able to explore the region in an immersive way that has never before been possible.

Without needing to hop on a flight, intrepid metaverse tourists can traverse the photorealistic, 2,590 square kilometer supercity from anywhere in the world. It’s all part of the city’s Commerce and Tourism Development Authority’s plan to boost Sharjah’s tourism industry.

A 360-Degree VR Experience

The emirate of Sharjah is the cultural capital of the United Arab Emirates, and a member state in which all citizens enjoy free healthcare, education and basic rights. As well as being home to over 1.8m people, it’s also teeming with historical sites including the al-Qasimi Fort (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the Sheikh Saqr bin Mohammed Al Qasimi Palace Museum.

Sharjahverse, meanwhile, is its NFT-powered digital twin. An ambitious project conceived by Multiverse Labs and the Sharjah Commerce & Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), the platform represents a first-of-its-kind opportunity to explore the UAE's cultural capital in ways never before imagined.

Exploration is only the tip of the iceberg. If its creators get their way, the Sharjahverse could become a veritable Disneyland for the digital age, a realm where users can socialize, shop, trade and play. All against the backdrop of the city’s iconic landmarks.

Recently unveiled at GITEX GLOBAL 2022, Sharjahverse uses a combination of real-world 3D videography and advanced generative AI and the platform is expected to soon be live on the official SCTDA website, with additional phases to be confirmed in due course. The Authority’s chairman, Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, says he hoped the metaverse would be a boon for the city’s tourism industry.

“With the accelerated pace of technical advancement, AI technologies are impacting every aspect of the tourism sector, right from welcoming and serving guests, responding to inquiries and analysing their preferences, to updating the tourism sector’s progress with accurate data to serve customers better,” said Al Midfa.

The Future of Tourism?

Sharjahverse is a bold move for the emirate of Sharjah, and it’s expected to offer an array of simulations, services and AI optimizations. According to Multiverse Labs CEO Cliff Szu, the digital city is “the world’s first government-backed, publicly visible metaverse city – and the world’s most realistic metaverse.”

By constructing a virtual twin that allows users to explore Sharjah’s cultural capital from the comfort of their own home, the ecosystem represents a possible avenue of exploration for the tourism industry. Might the Sharjahverse be the next great frontier of digital travel?