Dubai Consolidates Status as World’s Web3 Capital
The recent launch of Dubai’s Metaverse Strategy by His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai, positions the city as a global pioneer offering the world’s most advanced and connected ecosystem where the metaverse community can thrive in a dynamic and enabling environment.
The move consolidates Dubai’s status as a global capital of advanced technologies, primarily artificial intelligence (AI) and Web3.
Dubai’s progressive regulatory environment and a world-class technological infrastructure that meets the evolving needs of international players have attracted several big names in the world of Web3, including cryptocurrency platforms, blockchain companies, and tokenisation firms.
Dubai is already home to over 1,000 companies in the metaverse and blockchain sector.
As the city attracts new players, the sector’s current contribution of $500 million to the UAE’s economy is estimated to increase significantly. The Dubai Metaverse Strategy aims to support more than 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030 and add $4 billion to Dubai’s economy in five years.
The emirate is rapidly making headway with its metaverse strategy, announcing the formation of a Higher Committee for Future Technology and Digital Economy chaired by His Highness the Crown Prince of Dubai.
The objective of the Committee is to consolidate Dubai’s status as a global digital economy hub.
The Committee will design policies, analyse trends and supervise the implementation of strategies related to the digital economy and future technologies, including the metaverse, AI, blockchain, Web3, virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), the Internet of Things (IoT), data centres and cloud computing.
Dubai’s specialist Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) formulated a Test-Adapt-Scale model that has proven to be a compelling proposition for global future economy companies.
The model is a magnet for net-zero, high-value-add, technology-driven firms that are migrating to Dubai. The city seeks to become one of the top 10 metaverse economies and a global pioneer in adopting digital solutions, aiming to increase the number of blockchain companies by five times.
Among significant players moving to Dubai to join the VARA’s exclusive regime open to a limited number of licensees are some of the world’s largest and most credible virtual assets exchanges, such as Binance, FTX, crypto.com, Coinbase and Bybit.
This is in addition to traditional finance icons offering DeFi solutions like Galaxy Digital, Komainu, and Brevan Howard, native crypto service providers, and home-grown virtual assets enterprises like BitOasis and CoinMENA.
Experts envision Web3 as the decentralised and democratised version of Web2, the current iteration of the Internet.
Many believe it will include ‘crowd-owned’ social media platforms, search engines and marketplaces, replacing the current ‘corporate-owned’ format.
Intertwined with the idea of cryptocurrencies or decentralised finance (DeFi), the concept of a decentralised Internet – independent of a handful of ‘Big Tech’ companies – has been around for a while, but Web3 gained traction in 2021.
Dubai’s metaverse leadership
Dubai is the world’s first and only jurisdiction with the foresight to set up a dedicated virtual assets regulator.
In March this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved Dubai’s Virtual Assets Law (VAL) and established the VARA, firmly cementing Dubai’s leadership in the sector.
The law ensures much-needed investor protection, economic security, and market transparency, backed by fully traceable and non-deletable transaction records that fulfil AML-CFT considerations for global interoperability in the rapidly growing domain.
His Excellency Helal Al Marri, Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority that houses VARA, said: “Virtual assets are transforming the financial world and are set to be the primary drivers of the future global economy.
"Establishing the world’s only independent regulator for virtual assets is symbolic of Dubai’s confidence in the potential of this sector.
"The VARA regime is structured to catalyse collaboration and prioritise public protection. Our mission is to provide a progressive regulatory framework that can securely enable borderless economic opportunity across the global virtual assets Industry.
"Dubai is a global leader in adopting and adapting to new technologies. With VARA, the emirate is well-positioned to lead the global adoption and regulation of digital assets.”
Dubai is a pioneer in several new-age business sectors like FinTech and eCommerce. The Economist’s Digital Cities Index 2022 ranks Dubai first in the Middle East and 18th globally.
Policymakers are now consciously focusing on creating a virtuous ecosystem for emerging new technologies that will be integral to the future.
A hub for high-potential, future-focused firms
Dubai’s location as an innovation hub bridging the East and the West helps it offer unrivalled access to the world’s fastest-growing economies.
A traditional global financial hub, Dubai is well equipped as a safe and highly well-regulated conduit for trillions of dollars worth of transactions between the East and the West. The futuristic city is also a global leader in technology, home to some of the world’s most robust and dependable infrastructure.
It is only natural, then, that the pioneering city has now taken the lead in an industry that lies at the intersection of finance and technology.
Dubai is now also home to major industry events like ETHDubai and Binance Blockchain Week, which saw hundreds of international Web3 entrepreneurs, experts, and enthusiasts participate in fireside chats and panel discussions in March this year.
To be held at the Museum of the Future in September this year, the Dubai Metaverse Assembly will bring together regional and international experts in Dubai to shape the future of the metaverse and explore its promise and potential applications.
More than 300 global experts, policymakers, thought leaders, and decision-makers from more than 40 organisations will explore how the revolutionary metaverse technology can be deployed across vital sectors to create a better future and quality of life for humanity.
With Dubai now home to a large community of innovative startups shaping the future of finance, it has embarked upon a new mission to conquer the new economy frontier. Its ongoing technological advancements and infrastructure investments are set to maintain its status as the world’s Web3 capital.