Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation
  • Analysis

What the metaverse actually means for your business

Reuters/Mohamed Abd El Ghany
Omar Wael, a 13-year-old Egyptian developer, wears a virtual reality device as he works at his home in Alexandria, Egypt

Should you believe the hype or is this yet another marketing buzzword?

Not a day goes by without a brand or celebrity broadcasting their foray into the “metaverse”.

While some naysayers may dismiss this nascent Web3 sector as unfounded hype, swathes of metaverse advocates envision trillions of dollars worth of opportunities in this new digital economy.

The numbers certainly pack a lot of zeros. Investment giant JP Morgan predicts that the metaverse will generate $1 trillion in yearly revenues.

Earlier this year Citi said the metaverse economy could be worth $13 trillion by 2030.

The metaverse has the potential to grow up to $5 trillion in value by 2030, with e-commerce as the biggest beneficiary, followed by virtual learning, advertising and gaming, said management consultants McKinsey this month.

Dubai has already commenced work on a Metaverse Strategy that aims to see the sector contribute $4 billion to the emirate’s economy by 2030 and one percent to Dubai’s GDP, creating around 42,000 jobs.

What’s more, even traditional, fusty sectors are vying for a slice of the avatar action.

Last month Dubai ports giant DP World announced its expansion into the metaverse with the creation of DPMETAWORLD, a platform that gives its customers visibility of the supply chain from end to end, and that aims to create virtual solutions to real-world logistical issues.

“Call it whatever you want – Web3, Web5, metaverse or anything else – it’s clear that in the future we are going to be ‘immersed’ in the internet,” Roberto Croci, managing director of Microsoft for startups (Middle East and Africa), told AGBI.

“We are not going to sit in front of our screens anymore.

“We will have deeper, more profound and productive experiences, different ways of interacting and we will see a tighter bridge between physical and digital worlds.”

Creative Commons
In March of this year virtual real estate platform Decentraland held a Metaverse Fashion Week where luxury brands could market and sell their goods

Beyond the headlines: What exactly is the metaverse?

But the metaverse must move beyond the headlines to make a real impact, Croci explains.

“The region is scratching the surface of the metaverse and largely focusing on ‘nice-to-have’ use cases, whereas I wish to see more development on key Web3 components,” he said.

In December 2021, Tesla chief Elon Musk called the metaverse “more of a marketing buzzword than a practical concept”, and earlier this year Snap CEO Evan Spiegel said his company does not use the word metaverse because it’s “ambiguous and hypothetical”. 

Fellow billionaire Bill Gates was more positive. In a year-end personal blog the Microsoft co-founder predicted that most virtual meetings will move from two dimensional square boxes to the metaverse over the next two or three years.

While a set definition is yet to be agreed on, the metaverse is considered a next evolution of the internet where people use avatars to represent themselves and interact with people, objects and places within an immersive, three-dimensional virtual world.

The concept was first outlined in the 1992 novel Snow Crash to describe an interconnected set of virtual reality worlds. 

Although used interchangeably with Web 3.0, the former refers to the decentralised internet, built on distributed technologies like blockchain and decentralised autonomous organisations (DAO), and the metaverse revolves around how users will experience the internet of the future.

Creative Commons
A woman in the metaverse

Why is everyone suddenly talking about the metaverse?

Metaverse became part of our everyday vocabulary after tech giant Facebook changed its name to Meta and the company announced plans to invest $10 billion on technologies to build out its vision of the metaverse.

But the concept isn’t new. 

Online, immersive, role-playing experiences have been around for decades and multiplayer video games like Fortnite, PUBG, Minecraft and World of Warcraft have been prolifically successful with hundreds of millions of users.

But a confluence of factors has produced an opening for a collective shift towards the metaverse, including the increasing availability of high-speed internet and 5G connections, improving technology and affordability of augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR) headsets, and the turbocharged adoption of virtual lifestyles and remote work during the  pandemic. 

In parallel, blockchain enabled the creation of cryptocurrencies, digital tokens and transaction systems, giving birth to new economic opportunities.

Pushing real life boundaries

“The metaverse will push boundaries as a limitless world that overcomes the restrictions of real life,” said Bally Singh, Chief Marketing Officer of Everdome, a hyper-realistic metaverse, and Metahero, a decentralised platform that uses 3D technology to generate avatars and virtual objects and represent them through non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

“One of the most beautiful aspects of the metaverse is that there are none of the restrictions we face in the real world, meaning that practically anything is possible,” he said, adding that Everdome, for example, was taking its customers on an interplanetary mission from Hatta to Mars, brought to life by the company’s Unreal Engine 5-powered game. 

‘No gravity in the metaverse’

In addition to creating a hyper-immersive – and free to play – world for users, Everdome is also auctioning 12,000 plots of metaverse land on the Red Planet, located in the game areas across Everdome’s ecosystem.

“We’ve had a phenomenal response to the land [plots] released so far,” Singh said. 

He added that he believes Everdome’s hyper-realistic environment will create opportunities for brands to give consumers a richer engagement experience, allowing them to explore products on a deeper level – from physical items to guided tours of properties, to school lessons. 

However, Singh said, there is no “one size fits all” approach for brands and businesses to get the most out of the metaverse and that each company would have to discover their own use cases. 

“The metaverse will likely infiltrate every sector in some way in the coming years,” he added. 

Person, Human, SunglassesCreative Commons
People can play games and become characters from classic fairytales

Opportunities for transformation

Bally said the metaverse would allow gamers to “immerse themselves in photorealistic worlds that are beyond anything we’ve seen before”. 

Use cases with strong potential include education, sales, tourism and lifestyle, Bally added. 

“Think of how much more exciting and inspiring classes would be if students had the chance to dive deep into the oceans, venture into outer space, be transported to ancient Rome to study history, or practise virtual surgery skills,” he explained.

“As the metaverse grows, so does the opportunity to reach customers in an entirely new way. This is an exciting new playground that is open to all.”

Latest articles

The UAE's minister of industry and advanced technology, Sultan Al Jaber, left, met Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of Austria, for talks on trade

Austrian finance unicorn to open in UAE

Austria’s first unicorn has announced plans to set up in Dubai, as officials from the UAE hold top-level talks in Vienna to build on a 22 percent increase in bilateral trade last year A unicorn is a startup company valued at more than $1 billion that is privately owned and not listed on a share […]

Mads Bo Larsen, vice-president of Novo Nordisk UAE, says a local plant 'will not solve anything' in the face of the country's Ozempic shortage Video length: 3:39

UAE diabetics face Ozempic shortage due to weight-loss users

The manufacturer of Ozempic is “troubled” by the fact the drug, which was designed to help people with diabetes, is in short supply in the UAE because of the high number of consumers using it for its weight loss side-effects. Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk introduced Wegovy, a drug meant to specifically tackle obesity, to […]

A market in Cairo. The meeting of the central bank’s MPC was its first since Egypt secured $8 billion in financial support from the IMF in March

Egypt holds interest rate hike despite slowdown

The Central Bank of Egypt has kept its key interest rates unchanged despite a slowdown in economic growth. The monetary policy committee (MPC) left the lending rate unchanged at 28.25 percent and the deposit rate at 27.25 percent. Inflation has eased since the annual headline and core inflation peaked at 38 percent in September 2023 […]

The number of electric vehicles in Dubai passed 30,000 by the end of April 2024

Parkin to roll out more green EV chargers across Dubai

Dubai is expanding its network of electric vehicle (EV) chargers as part of the emirate’s push to accelerate smart and green mobility. Parkin, the state-backed parking management company, has signed an agreement with the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) to increase the number of EV green charger stations at prime locations across the emirate. Parkin […]