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The chatter around what the metaverse could mean in the years to come continues to intensify – including in the Middle East. Indeed, the English-language Abu Dhabi-published newspaper, The National, has recently reported that the metaverse industry could be worth a whopping $13 trillion by the end of this decade, with fashion and luxury retail accounting for $50 billion of that.
Those figures come from a study by the Middle East’s largest retail operator, the Chalhoub Group. Indeed, it seems that the region could be well-placed to reap the benefits from the metaverse sector’s predicted stellar growth in the months and years ahead.
Could the hype surrounding the metaverse turn into reality in the Middle East?
There are certainly good reasons to suspect that the metaverse sector will gain particular traction in this part of the world – if, indeed, that isn’t largely the case already.
The Chalhoub Group singled out the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) – the political and economic union comprising the states of Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates – as having particular potential as far as the metaverse is concerned.
In backing up this stance, the Dubai-headquartered luxury goods retailer referenced such factors as the region’s young tech-savvy population, favourable regulatory environment, and well-funded start-up ecosystem, the latter seeing Web3 participants attracting around $553 million in investments.
The company shared various other statistics which it claimed showed the GCC had the right foundations to help ensure the success of metaverse initiatives. These included 45% of the region’s population being under 30 years old, as well as the $14,808 average disposable income in the GCC per capita. Also referenced was that Saudi Arabia alone has around 23.5 million gamers, making up about two thirds of the country’s population.
There has also been a 195% year-on-year growth in crypto transactions in Saudi Arabia – and it is anticipated that over the next five years, the metaverse will deliver a $4 billion increase in Dubai’s GDP.
“A solid foundation upon which the metaverse can be explored further”
As The National noted in its article, there is still only a moderate uptake of the metaverse and non-fungible tokens (NFTs) in the GCC, less than a quarter of luxury consumers polled in this part of the world saying that they owned or used these assets. However, an additional 57% of respondents did express an interest in them.
Meanwhile, cryptocurrencies have seen relatively impressive adoption in the region, 48% of the users questioned stating that they owned these digital assets.
The Chalhoub Group’s chief strategy officer, Jasmina Banda, said these factors indicated that the GCC was able to exhibit the right elements in order to put in place metaverse strategies.
She observed: “The region’s vibrant innovation ecosystem paired with empowering regulatory framework provides a solid foundation upon which the metaverse can be explored further.
“With this potential for growth, it is only natural for global luxury groups to experiment with the metaverse and adopt it gradually across the full customer journey, from awareness to retention.”
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