Lunging Into the Future: Saudi Arabia and the UAE To Become the Hub for Metaverse

In the past couple of years, the Middle East has become a booming market for innovation. From everything related AI to the up-and-coming Metaverse that we always hear about, Arabs have assumed a leading position on this forefront.

The metaverse, in particular, an industry that Bloomberg estimates will reach $800 billion by 2024 thanks to significant investments from digital behemoths like Facebook, Microsoft, Apple, and Google, has been at the center of a shift led by GCC nations such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

According to Mathew Ball’s interview with Vice, who has authored a number of essays regarding the potential and architecture of the metaverse, the metaverse has been compared to a 3D model of the internet. Basically, a location that parallels the real world and a location where both you and other users can interact with each other using avatars.

According to Ian Khan, author of “Metaverse for Dummies,” speaking to Al Arabiya English, the Middle East will become a “big participant” in the metaverse. Khan claimed in the interview that the region has also experienced other firsts in the immersive virtual world, including the first-ever metaverse wedding.

Back in May, Florian Ughetto and Liz Nunez were the first couples in the UAE to have the first metaverse Wedding. According to the Khaleej Times, “Twenty of their closest relatives and friends joined them in the metaverse from the comfort and privacy of their own home. Following the exchange of vows, the best man and maid of honor will offer remarks.”

Moreover, the first Metaverse Incubator in the Middle East, MetaIncubator is presently located in Dubai and was created to promote the development of early-stage Metaverse and Web3 applications. According to the most recent report from McKinsey & Company, $5 trillion will be generated by the metaverse by 2030, which is predicted to be the future of commerce and interpersonal connection. Khan also thinks the Middle East can profit from the market. In this interview he stated that the Middle East is one of the world’s regions with the quickest rate of technological adoption, and the metaverse is no exception. “We are seeing a lot of activity from the region, from participating in the discourse to participating in the metaverse.”

The “cognitive digital twin metaverse,” which NEOM unveiled earlier this year for Saudi Arabia, enables visitors to have a simultaneous presence at NEOM, Saudi Arabia’s first city, both physically and virtually, as an avatar or hologram. A marketplace for cryptocurrencies and NFTs will be available on the platform that was unveiled at the LEAP technology event in Riyadh. However, this new unveiling has a special quality in that it will provide people with a virtual representation of NEOM and aid in its actual building using brick and mortar. Imagine it as crowdsourcing an entire city’s design where visitors may, for instance, alter the color schemes of individual apartments.

It is clear that both nations are making an effort to take advantage of what the modern digital world has to offer in order to establish a new “norm” that will improve convenience and transform how we view our lives. However, some may contend that the reliance on the metaverse and those significant initiatives and investments can result in increased cybercrimes, problems with privacy and security, and a lack of moderation. Others assert that it will create new chances for financial gain, enhancements to online education, and new commercial prospects. Since we don’t yet know which side is telling the truth, we can say for the time being that Saudi Arabia and the UAE are both eager to invest in and use metaverse technology.

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