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Is the metaverse an economic equalizer? Leaders and futurists weigh in at Dubai Metaverse Assembly

Experts say the technology has enormous potential—from connecting with people and international corporations to solving supply chain bottlenecks

Is the metaverse an economic equalizer? Leaders and futurists weigh in at Dubai Metaverse Assembly
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

Metaverse is here to stay, and nothing proves it better than when governments, leaders, and experts convene under a single roof to unlock its true potential. Discussions about the metaverse gained further mileage as the first-ever Dubai Metaverse Assembly that kicked off on Wednesday. 

“The Assembly serves as a global platform for collaboration and a tool to collectively harness the metaverse technology and explore its potential,” said His Excellency Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), in his opening speech

The Dubai Metaverse Assembly, organized by DFF, hosts 300 global experts and more than 40 organizations specializing in the metaverse and virtual world applications. 

To bring you up to speed, we’ve rounded up the highlights of the event.

MINISTRY OF ECONOMY’S METAVERSE HQ

It’s not just businesses that are pro metaverse but governments, too, are embracing it with open arms to boost economies. The UAE’s Ministry of Economy has joined the league by launching its headquarters in the metaverse at the assembly.

“The metaverse is an economic equalizer, transforming key industries from logistics to real estate. And with advanced physical and digital infrastructure, the UAE can build on its position as a gateway for global trade to become a digital export center and a leading metaverse economy,” said Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy.  

The Ministry’s third office would provide an immersive environment for connecting and working with the public, international corporations, and governments. It will also be outfitted with cutting-edge technology that will allow the Ministry to negotiate bilateral agreements with other countries in the metaverse, supporting the UAE’s goal to become a hub for innovations on a global scale.

SOLVING SUPPLY CHAIN BOTTLENECKS

Speaking at a fireside chat, Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, group chairman and CEO of DP World, reiterated the power of technology to create equal economic opportunities and cement Dubai’s position as a global trade hub in the digital age.

The metaverse presents a huge opportunity to solve real-world supply chain bottlenecks, Bin Sulayem said at the first Dubai Metaverse Assembly. 

“Especially in the last two years, global supply chains have undergone turbulent moments because of the pandemic and geopolitical tension. Now more than ever, businesses and governments are ready to embrace technologies that will boost the resiliency and sustainability of our supply chains,” he added.

“We are exploring the metaverse’s usage across our services, including simulations of warehousing and terminal operations, container and vessel repair inspections, safety training, and other commercial uses. By using this technology, we hope to keep trade flowing, increase visibility and minimize disruption to build trade networks fit for the future.”

POTENTIAL TO BOOST ECONOMIES

From an economic perspective, Belhoul pointed out that the metaverse has great potential as it will contribute up to $5 trillion to the global economy by 2030. Moreover, the metaverse will likely infiltrate every sector in the coming years, with the market opportunity estimated at over $1 trillion in yearly revenues.

“To an extent, the metaverse is still uncharted territory and we are yet to fully understand it. Through the metaverse, we can transcend a multitude of boundaries. We are gaining space for social interactions with people and the world around us, and technically, we can reach people in different corners of the world through a sub-reality,” said Belhoul.

Al Marri added, “Digital technology is vital to our new economic model for the next 50 years and the metaverse represents one of the most exciting applications in this field. In line with the UAE’s forward-looking vision, we understand how the metaverse can transform and redefine our diversified economy and have continued to launch strategies to unlock its potential.”

GROSS METAVERSE PRODUCT

At the event, His Excellency Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, revealed the five pillars that will underpin the new Dubai Metaverse Strategy – tourism, real estate, education, retail, and government services.

The new metric, “gross metaverse product,” will reflect how the emerging technology is a significant factor, contributing to the economy, the minister added.

ON THE SIDE

Accenture, the World Economic Forum, Meta, The Economist, Asiarath, and Outlier Ventures held closed-side sessions, in addition to the nine immersive experiences for delegates to explore the metaverse.

Jaid Meskel from Magic Leap presented a session on metaverse applications and the role of augmented reality in developing vital sectors and successfully applying new and innovative practices to advance healthcare, manufacturing, and automotive.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Shweta Nair is the Associate Editor at Fast Company Middle East. She is drawn to a plethora of topics ranging from human-interest stories to technology and has worked for Times of Oman and The Arabian Stories. In her downtime, she loves tending to her home garden, learning new skills & binge-watching true crime shows. More

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