Metaverse en route from ‘era of hype’ to ‘pillar’ in Middle East

    09 Feb 2024

    While the hype surrounding the metaverse may be away from its peak back in 2021, an executive believes it lives on, with governments in the Middle East capitalizing on the technology to boost their economies.

    At the Arte Talks event held at the Theatre of Digital Art in Dubai, Cointelegraph spoke with Samuel Huber, the CEO of LandVault, a metaverse firm working with various government agencies in the Middle East. Huber spoke about the current interest in the metaverse and the biggest segment diving into the technology.

    According to Huber, because the metaverse was the main narrative in 2021 and 2022, everyone jumped in. However, the executive said many who started metaverse projects pulled back. Huber explained that this was because many of the projects overestimated the metaverse’s impact in the short term and built things without any utility. He added:

    “They were also severely limited by some of the platforms and the experience that was available to them at that time. I think this era was really the era of hype, the first foray into the metaverse. But really was just a prototype of what the metaverse is.”

    Right now, the metaverse is taking a different form into what Huber describes as the “3D internet.” The executive explained that to them, the metaverse is about building 3D experiences embedded into websites. “We believe in building 3D experiences that could be hosted on your own websites as a way to just create a better experience for your users.”

    Even though many companies have already shifted from creating metaverse projects into artificial intelligence or other technologies, Huber explained that there’s a big segment diving into the metaverse, which is governments in the Middle East. Huber told Cointelegraph:

    “What we found is the biggest segment are the governments in the Middle East, especially the UAE, Saudi and Qatar, who are trying to digitalize their infrastructure and create really interesting economies for their citizens.”

    For example, Huber pointed toward Dubai’s vision of generating 40,000 jobs with its metaverse strategy. On July 18, 2022, the government of Dubai launched the Dubai Metaverse Strategy to enhance the country’s status as a leader in futuristic technologies. The initiative also announced the goal of supporting 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030.

    The United Arab Emirates Ministry of Economy also opened up an office in the metaverse in 2022, showing the country’s dedication to exploring use cases for the technology. Huber explained that these are examples of Middle Eastern governments “trying to diversify the economy.”

    “They’ve identified a few of these frontier technologies like metaverse, blockchain, AI, where they really want to take the lead, invest in the ecosystem, create events like the one we are at right now, bring the best talent, and really have companies that are born and bred here and grow here,” Huber said.

    He added that the metaverse is “one of those pillars” and that the vision was a long-term vision that will not stop even after a decade.


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