Jul 25, 2023
The metaverse or 3D internet landscape has the ability to completely revolutionize industries, redefine customer engagement, and reshape business operations in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). In this blog post, we explore the opportunities that the metaverse presents for organizations in the MENA region. It highlights the 3D internet’s role in improving customer experiences across retail, tourism, and e-learning industries. It also sheds light on how the digital space is transforming work with use cases for enhanced virtual collaborations and meetings.
Understanding the metaverse in the MENA context
Governments and businesses in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are beginning to explore the possibilities of the 3D internet, recognizing its potential to digitally transform industries and stimulate economic growth. With improving digital infrastructure and increasing internet connectivity, the groundwork is laid for widespread metaverse adoption throughout the MENA region, and the following countries are leading the way:
The United Arab Emirates (UAE): The UAE, particularly Dubai, is a forerunner in embracing the 3D internet. In July 2022, Dubai launched its metaverse strategy to become a leading metaverse economy. As reported by Bloomberg, the initiative aims to contribute $4 billion to Dubai's economy and create 40,000 new job opportunities within five years. Big Dream Lab is an example of one of the many UAE-based organizations pioneering metaverse applications using virtual and augmented reality (VR and AR) products across various sectors, including mining, oil and gas, manufacturing, tourism, and more.
Saudi Arabia (KSA): Saudi Arabia holds the world's highest government spending on technology, accounting for 21.7% of the total technical expenditure in 2022, as reported by the Arab News. The Metaverse industry in Saudi Arabia is projected to grow by 37.1% annually, reaching $1,585.8 million in 2023, per a Metaverse Market Intelligence Report 2023 published by Business Wire. The country heavily invests in 3D internet startups and explores innovative use cases across industries. Saudi Arabia's NEOM city development project incorporates a metaverse component to enhance construction processes and professional collaboration and attract investors and residents. As reported by Reuters, NEOM Tech & Digital, a subsidiary of NEOM Megacity, invested $1 billion in AI projects, including a metaverse platform.
Egypt: Deloitte’s 'The Metaverse and its Potential for MENA' report stated that the metaverse could contribute $11.6 billion to $22.0 billion to Egypt's GDP by 2035. Though the region is still behind the UAE and Saudia Arabia in terms of 3D internet readiness, 11% of the country’s population has advanced ICT skills (Information communication technology skills), which is relatively high for the region and makes it crucial for metaverse content creators, as highlighted in a publication by the Boston Consulting Group.
Enhancing customer experience
The metaverse has the potential to revolutionize customer experience across various industries. It offers unique opportunities for businesses to engage and connect with customers in new ways by providing immersive and interactive virtual environments. Here are some industries where the metaverse has had a significant impact:
The Arab News publication reports that the retail sector in MENA is worth 1 trillion, with 73% of consumers increasing online shopping during the pandemic. Retailers are adopting augmented and virtual reality to improve the experience in this booming sector. For instance, IKEA's implementation of a VR experience in Kuwait, Jordan, and Morocco resulted in a 20% rise in footfall and sales.
The MENA region is witnessing rapid growth in the gaming industry, with Saudi Arabia (KSA) investing nearly $40 billion in the sector, as per Deloitte’s report published in 2023. The metaverse has the potential to further boost market growth through AR and VR, greater immersion, enhanced graphics, and more social elements. Several VR gaming attractions have already been established in Jordan, Morocco, Egypt, and the UAE.
Deloitte’s 2023 report states that Tourism is crucial in economic diversification, contributing 19% of GDP in Jordan, 12% in Egypt, and 11% in Morocco. The 3D internet can be a powerful tool to promote MENA's rich natural and cultural assets to a global audience. For instance, Saudi Arabia’s Royal Commission for AlUla (RCU) recently launched the ancient city of Hegra in the metaverse, becoming the first UNESCO World Heritage Site built in a digital space, and is free for tourists to visit and explore.
In MENA, virtual classrooms and interactive learning platforms leveraging the 3D internet are transforming education. At the Office of Vocational Training and Labor Promotion (OFPPT) metaverse hub in Morocco, educators provide "hands-on" training to students and eliminate logistical limitations. Instructors create engaging and interactive lessons for on-site OFPPT students and those studying remotely by utilizing lifelike 3D models and immersive virtual environments.
Socializing and entertainment
Virtual events, concerts, and VR chat rooms are increasingly popular in MENA to connect individuals in immersive digital environments. A recent live virtual event was the Expo Dubai Xplorer. It involved a digital twin of the Dubai Expo site, allowing seamless real-time interaction between on-site and virtual visitors. The platform offered interactive 360º video tours of the physical pavilions for an immersive experience.
Remote collaboration and work
The 3D internet presents significant opportunities for remote collaboration and work, transforming how teams interact and operate in virtual environments. Here are some key ways in which businesses can leverage the metaverse for remote collaboration:
Virtual workspaces: The metaverse enables the creation of virtual offices and workspaces where team members can gather, communicate, and collaborate in real time, regardless of their physical locations. Virtual workspaces can foster a sense of presence and facilitate spontaneous interactions, resembling in-person office experiences. The UAE Ministry of Economy has built its third office in the metaverse to connect and collaborate with global companies, governments, and individuals through immersive environments.
Immersive meetings and conferences: Instead of traditional video conferencing, the metaverse offers immersive meeting experiences. Avatars representing team members can allow for more dynamic interactions and visual cues, leading to more productive and engaging discussions. A report by Ciena revealed that 79% of professionals in the Middle East are ready to use VR platforms and the metaverse over video conferencing, highlighting the demand for newer ways to connect.
Cross-platform collaboration: The metaverse can integrate with various platforms and tools, enabling team members to access and collaborate on documents, presentations, and projects seamlessly. This interoperability streamlines workflows and enhances productivity.
Training and skill development: Companies can use virtual environments on the 3D internet for employee training and skills development. Organizations can create simulated scenarios and interactive learning experiences, enabling employees to practice skills and techniques safely and engagingly. For example, Takeleap, a UAE software company, creates VR simulations for skill building and training in no-risk environments.
Metaverse advertising and marketing opportunities
According to McKinsey, 79% of consumers active on the metaverse have made a purchase, making it a prime channel to reach potential customers. Major brands like Nike, Samsung, and Coca-Cola are creating experiences and marketing activations using the 3D internet to connect with this new consumer segment. As digital marketing gains dominance over traditional marketing, the metaverse is expected to elevate the former to a new level.
Here are a few advertising and marketing opportunities for brands in the metaverse:
Engaging with new customer groups: The 3D internet has a significant share of Gen Z and millennials across platforms, with 67% of Roblox's 50 million daily users under 16. In their mid-20s, the oldest Gen Z consumers are becoming an influential income-earning group. They are more familiar with virtual worlds, transactions, and goods than previous generations, making them an ideal brand target market.
Creating immersive experiences: Metaverse marketing offers a unique opportunity to create tailored immersive experiences for your products or services. In 2019, a creative technology company based in UAE and Saudia Arabia created an immersive campaign for Cartier’s Santos timepiece collection that engaged customers by making them a part of the brand story through a VR experience.
Launching digital collectibles to drive brand engagement: Leveraging blockchain technology to provide branded collectibles as non-fungible tokens (NFTs), like digital art or trading cards that asset owners can transfer from one to another, adds value and uniqueness to your offerings. The Middle East’s luxury retailer, Chalhoub Group, successfully launched an NFT drop for its luxury tableware brand Christofle to engage and connect with their community.
Future Outlook for the Metaverse in MENA
The Middle East and North Africa could experience a significant economic boost, with the metaverse contributing over $50 billion to the region's GDP by 2035, as reported by Arabian Business. Even though the metaverse is in its early stages, various sectors, such as education, tourism, gaming, wellness, and commerce, are actively adopting the technology.
The region is undergoing digitalization and economic growth, with businesses and governments actively developing the metaverse. Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain, and Qatar have regulations to promote the adoption of web3 technologies as part of their digital economic transformation programs. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are leading the way by making substantial investments in metaverse ecosystems. For instance, Saudi Arabia is committing $1 billion to metaverse projects to establish itself as a global technological hub. Similarly, Dubai has launched the metaverse strategy to position the city as one of the world's top 10 metaverse economies. The strategy highlights that greater innovation in critical sectors and government services bolstered by the 3D internet is underway.
The metaverse or 3D internet presents organizations in MENA with vast opportunities to revolutionize industries, engage customers in novel ways, and streamline operations. Embracing this digital revolution can lead to innovative advancements, enhanced brand experiences, and global market presence, positioning organizations at the forefront of the dynamic digital landscape. The time is ripe for organizations to seize these prospects and establish themselves as leaders in the metaverse-driven future.
Are you an organization looking to launch your presence in the metaverse? We can help you build, scale, and monetize your idea on the 3D internet. Get in touch with us!
Jul 25, 2023
LandVault is the largest metaverse builder with over 100 million square feet of virtual real estate, more than 120 full-time creators, and nearly 300 completed projects. We’ve been helping brands build and grow in gaming environments since 2017 and the metaverse since 2021.
LandVault’s platform-agnostic proprietary technology and creative powerhouse builds and delivers tailored, data-driven, and optimized business solutions and insights. We help clients launch, optimize, and monetize metaverse experiences.
LandVault’s mission is to accelerate the metaverse economy through technology with a vision of a fairer wealth distribution across the web.