Dubai’s crypto regulator establishes headquarters in the metaverse

    09 May 2022

    Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) announced plans to establish its metaverse headquarters in The Sandbox virtual world. Thus, VARA would become the world’s first regulator to enter the metaverse, showcasing the government’s attempts to turn Dubai into a hub for the digital economy.

    VARA said in a statement that its move into the metaverse is an attempt at making the regulator “accessible to its industry in their environment, and facilitate collaborative engagement between global Virtual Asset Service Providers, Industry Thought-leaders, and International Regulatory Authorities.”

    “Our presence in the metaverse marks the beginning of a new phase in the Dubai government’s march for the future; one that will have a positive impact in the long run,” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, said in the statement.

    VARA was established this March by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, vice president and ruler of Dubai, and is governed under the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law, the first law in the emirate that regulates virtual assets.

    The expansion into the metaverse is part of Dubai’s strategy to create a prototype decentralized regulator model.

    VARA also aims to make the model accessible to government and industry leaders, other authorities, and virtual asset service providers to help shape the future digital economy, The Executive Office stated.

    The MetaHQ – as entitled VARA’s virtual headquarters – will reportedly serve as the primary channel to engage global virtual asset service providers to initiate applications, welcome new licensees, share expertise and drive worldwide interoperability.

    It will also “enable the dynamic virtual assets sector to build economic resilience, accelerate social inclusion and address environmental sustainability,” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum stated.

    “Today, VARA joins the metaverse to become Dubai’s — and the metaverse’s — first government authority, ushering in a new era in which Dubai Government utilizes modern innovations to extend its services,” Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum said in a statement.

    Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, added: “VARA’s acquiring land in the Sandbox is symbolic of our belief in this sector, and the onus is on us as government to be the bridge that allows investors and consumers to safely adopt, and collaboratively scale the economy.”

    This move is an additional part of the government’s attempts to turn Dubai into a hub for virtual assets and the digital economy. On its way, it has already had some success, having lured several large companies away from Singapore recently, such as Bybit, and Three Arrows Capital.

    The Sandbox is an Ethereum-based platform in which people can buy and sell plots of land, play games, and earn virtual currency.

    An alpha version of The Sandbox went live in November of 2021, and around 16,000 people bought virtual plots of land on its release. It was funded in part by the Japanese investment conglomerate SoftBank Vision Fund, which was co-created by the Saudi Public Investment Fund (PIF).

    The platform has a slew of top-brand backers, including sportswear company Adidas, gaming giant Atari, and rapper Snoop Dogg.

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