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Metaverse: Redefining the Future of Virtual Experience

The advent of Web 3.0 is expected to give an impetus to the virtual world. An increase in investment in the immersive world is being witnessed across the globe. The metaverse is one such area where tech-enthusiasts, investors, technologists, and stakeholders are taking keen interest. Metaverse is expected to be one of the top-most emerging technologies in the virtual space and its market is likely to grow manifolds in the coming years. Metaverse is the convergence of the innovation of the digital world that includes physical, augmented, and virtual realities. It is a shared virtual space where, with the help of Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual Reality (VR), one can have hyper-realistic, immersive, and interactive experiences. Also, such a virtual reality or computer-aided environment allows for enhanced interaction through avatars, sounds, text-messages, music video and video games. According to Fortune Business Insights, the global metaverse market is projected to grow from USD 100 B in 2022 to USD 1,527 B by 2029 exhibiting a CAGR of 48% during 2022 – 2029.

Metaverse is likely to have diverse application across different industry verticals. The gaming industry, social networking/collaboration, retail, fashion, education, etc. are increasingly witnessing a greater acceptance and adoption of the technology. Activities which earlier used to take place in a siloed environment, with the advent of Web 3.0, will take place in a single metaverse such as participating in a virtual social experience, playing games, purchasing outfits and accessories for the online avatar, using virtual classroom for immersive learning, etc. Metaverse also enables one to use NFTs or non-fungible tokens as a sort of currency to trade freely, safely, and fairly their digital goods and items.

Further, metaverse is anticipated to provide a persistent, decentralized, collaborative and interoperable opportunities and business models enabling organizations to extend their digital businesses. Further, there are several factors driving the growth of metaverse such as smart devices, gaming, and e-commerce development, etc.

Key technologies which are giving a momentum to the metaverse market include the following:

AR/VR: AR/VR are two technologies driving the faster adoption of metaverse. These two technologies are expected to make the metaverse immersive and allow users to interact with virtual objects, people, and environments. Due to their easy accessibility through web browsers, smartphones, and headsets, AR/VR are expected to drive the demand for metaverse apps and platforms.

Blockchain: Blockchain offers a way to create, own, and monetize decentralized digital assets. The technology enables the metaverse to overcome various challenges associated with centralized data storage. It offers a more secure, safe, private, and trustworthy space for people to interact and work together across gaming, virtual modes of payments, NFTs, real estate, etc.

AI: AI is an integral tool enabling the faster adoption of metaverse. It impacts all aspects of the value chain including processing data generated on devices, create virtual avatars and identity on software platforms and allow content creation to make the metaverse more immersive and engaging.

Key technologies which are giving a momentum to the metaverse market include the following:

Top companies making huge investments: As the metaverse is gaining prominence, major companies across gaming, networking fashion, entertainment, and retail are making huge investments to tap the maximum potential of this growing technology. Key brands are jumping to create unforgettable experiences for their customers and increasing interaction amongst them.

Rise in the web-developer community: The metaverse presents a collection of digital tools and technologies for creating virtual assets and trading them at online marketplaces. This has led to an increase in the number of metaverse content creators from various parts of the world seeking to grab the first mover advantage. Further, developers can build, license, and distribute apps with pre-built extensions, offering an open-sourced approach.

Digital avatar/identity: 3D designs and avatars are expected to form the foundation for the metaverse. The technology offers one to have a customized digital avatar to interact with other users in the same environment. Avatars are thus visual representation offering opportunities to their customers to create digital identities to better collaborate in a virtual world.

Metaverse is one of the technologies which is envisaged to transform the MEA region

In the MEA region, metaverse is likely to be the next physical world that will be created with the blend of virtual reality and augmented reality and accessible from anywhere and at any time. The MEA region has an abundance of creative talent that focuses on the desire to create content, perform, and express themselves online in virtual ways especially Arabic content. Also, the MEA is continuing to diversify with growing entertainment needs of the younger adult population. At present, VR and AR along with the rapid adoption of 5G are the key enablers of the metaverse across the region.

The Dubai Metaverse Strategy, announced by the Dubai Ruler Sheikh aims to increase the contribution of the metaverse sector to the emirate’s economy to USD 4 B by 2030. It hopes to attract 1,000 blockchain and metaverse companies and support more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030. At present, AR/VR contributes USD 500 M to the UAE economy and employees over 6,700 people. The region is implementing metaverse technologies to improve the performance of resident surgeons and increase the productivity of engineers. Also, the region’s Metaverse Strategy supports the development of Web 3.0 technology and its applications to create new

governmental work models and development in vital sectors, including tourism, education, retail, remote work, healthcare, and the legal sector. The program also plans to pilot VR programs, to be implemented and overseen by Dubai’s media department, covering all aspects of media including television, radio, and print.

Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), an economic development agency, aims to build accelerator programs, regulatory sandboxes, and incubators to build a technologically advanced society in the metaverse field.

Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) has entered the metaverse with the establishment of its Metaverse HQ, making it the first regulator to have a presence in the emerging digital space. Expanding VARA’s resources to a borderless audience is part of Dubai’s strategy to create a prototype decentralised regulator model.

Dubai Municipality has also suggested creating a virtual city for the public, which is contemplated to be a big game changer in the world of metaverse. The Ajman Police, Abu Dhabi, has introduced its own metaverse platform, with which the public can meet and talk with the police officers in a virtual setting using online avatars. Further, Dubai’s Ministry of Health and Prevention (MoHAP) has launched a new metaverse platform for virtual medical care access and the Dubai World Trade Centre announced the MetaIncubator, which is the Middle East’s first metaverse incubator.

Further, Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, with over three million residents, has a thriving online gaming industry contributing largely to the Saudi’s GDP. The region is a budding innovation center for start-ups particularly interested in the fintech, ICT, retail, and online gaming industry.

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