Saudi Arabia launches ‘cultural’ metaverse to celebrate founding day

    27 Feb 2024

    The Saudi Arabian Ministry of Culture launched a metaverse dedicated to showcasing and preserving the nation’s cultural heritage on the occasion of its founding day.

    The Saudi government’s Cultural Universe metaverse initiative, which takes a user through the long history of Saudi Arabia dating back to 1727, went live on Feb. 22. The metaverse was built on top of Oracle’s Hyperledger Fabric 2.5 blockchain technology and developed by droppGroup’s Generative Media Intelligence artificial intelligence (AI) system droppPhygital.

    The virtual world takes a first-person shooter approach to help users navigate the metaverse. Users can walk freely on a common path along with other users and explore the information provided on both sides of the path. Going near the virtual representations of historical events triggers a voice audio explaining the event in detail. However, the audio is limited to Arabic and is not available in English.

    The Cultural Universe also includes other sectors dedicated to music, art, history, food and crafts around Saudi heritage, as well as mini video games. The service is free to use and can be accessed via website, mobile, virtual reality headsets and other supported digital devices. The Saudi government’s official announcement read:

    “This cross-platform compatibility embodies the Ministry of Culture’s commitment to inclusivity, enabling a diverse global audience to explore and engage with the rich history of Saudi culture.”

    The Saudi Ministry of Culture — tasked with preserving and promoting the nation’s cultural heritage and nurturing contemporary artistic expression — views the metaverse as a “transformative moment” and considers the initiative a cultural revolution.

    Saudi Arabia, along with the rest of the Middle East, has moved past the metaverse’s “era of hype” and is headed toward capitalizing on the technology to boost their economies, said Samuel Huber, the CEO of LandVault, a metaverse firm working with various government agencies in the Middle East.

    Speaking to Cointelegraph, Huber said the metaverse is about building 3D experiences embedded into websites. He added:

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

    He added that, like blockchain and AI, the metaverse is “one of those pillars” the Middle East is eyeing for economic growth.


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