If there is one thing the UAE is known for, and quite good at, it is that it has always been at the forefront of adopting the latest business or tech trends. In some cases, its forward-looking leadership has laid down visions for the country that are considered a step ahead of their times. 

The culture of innovation pervading from the top echelons of government through to the private sector has allowed the UAE to make giant leaps across many sectors, such as real estate, tourism, healthcare, education, transportation and entrepreneurship to name just a few. 

Game changers 

When the cryptocurrency trend was beginning to take a global foothold, it took drastic steps to ensure that it will be a leading hub for the cryptocurrency market not just in the region, but also the rest of the world. 

The UAE is considered among the most progressive markets for cryptocurrency activities in the world. Earlier this year, Dubai announced a regulatory framework for virtual assets, including cryptocurrencies, as part of a strategic move to become a leading digital asset. This included the creation of a new regulatory body, the Virtual Assets Regulation Authority (VARA), which became the first such entity to have a presence in the metaverse which will serve as the primary channel with which to engage global virtual asset service providers to initiate applications, welcome new licensees, share expertise and drive worldwide interoperability. 

In both Abu Dhabi and Dubai, government initiatives are underway to expand the use of crypto assets throughout the country. The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), for instance, opened a new crypto centre to companies developing various crypto and blockchain technologies.  

Back in 2018, the UAE introduced the Emirates Blockchain Strategy, an initiative aimed at migrating government transactions on the blockchain platform with the goal of becoming the first blockchain powered government. 

The bigger picture 

These initiatives are meant to capitalise on the massive potential of the cryptocurrency and the wider digital assets market. According to Gemini’s 2022 Global State of Crypto Report, total venture capital investment in crypto and blockchain start-ups has exceeded $30 billion, with more than $10.5 billion coming in the last quarter of 2021 alone. 

These tactical moves are already reaping substantial fruits for the UAE. Many new and well-established companies are choosing to move their headquarters to the Emirates, such as Ripple, a United States technology company. Crypto exchange Bybit announced plans to move its headquarters from Singapore to Dubai, while Crypto.com has commenced an aggressive hiring campaign in the emirate to firm up its presence in the country and the rest of the Middle East and North Africa region. Even Binance has announced plans to set up its regional headquarters in Dubai. These will bring in foreign direct investments (FDI), create jobs and open up many other opportunities for the UAE’s economy. 

A new world order 

The exciting part is just about to happen. With the UAE’s focus on innovation, it is also making inroads into the virtual world of the metaverse. Dubai has established a digital twin city in the virtual world called One Human Reality.  

In support of this initiative, we at DAMAC announced plans to invest up to $100 million to build digital cities that will allow us not just to embrace this new trend, but also capitalise on a potential $800 billion revenue that the metaverse offers, according to estimates made by Bloomberg intelligence. 

Indeed, a whole new world awaits all of is, where both physical and virtual realities are changing the way we live our lives today and into the foreseeable future. 

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