UAE prince launches Dubai metaverse strategy to create 40k jobs by 2030

A country that generates about 30 percent of its GDP from crude exports decided to bet on web3 in a push to prepare the economy for the post-oil future.

The cityscape of crypto Dubai at night.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, presented the Dubai Metaverse Strategy that aims to transform the city into the global capital of futuristic technologies, mainly artificial intelligence (AI) and web3.

As reported by Emirates News Agency, the strategy sets an ambitious goal of attracting more than 1,000 companies in the fields of blockchain and metaverse and creating 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030. Such influx of capital, talent, and ideas will foster Dubai’s economy and further cement its role as a top jurisdiction for crypto and web3 startups.

The UAE has already taken steps to become one of the most crypto-friendly countries in the world. The combination of regulatory clarity and favorable tax policies made Dubai a burgeoning startup hub. Currently, the city is home to over 1,000 companies that brought $500 million to the country’s economy, Hamdan bin Mohammed stated in a tweet. And the recent proposal to grant crypto firms licenses issued by the UAE Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) is expected to draw even more companies, including such industry leaders as, OKX, FTX, Kraken, Binance, and Bybit.

The strategy laid out by Hamdan bin Mohammed aims to develop metaverse use-cases and applications for Dubai’s government and other vital sectors of the economy, including tourism, education, retail, remote work, healthcare, and judiciary. The primary focus of the program is on the different aspects of virtual reality, but it also promotes the development of artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of things (IoT), and the 5G network.

A step toward liberalization in UAE

The UAE's push for futuristic technologies is a part of the broader plan to diversify its oil-bound economy. Advertising itself as a liberal, prosperous, and innovative trade hub, UAE hopes to rebrand its image of a conservative middle eastern country and attract global talent. For this purpose, authorities introduced in 2021 several far-reaching changes to the UAE’s visa system. Previously, the residency status was tied to employment, so workers were forced to leave the country immediately after losing their jobs. The new regulation gave residents an additional three months to look for a job after being fired and allowed a parent to sponsor a visa for their children under 25.

A degree of liberalization has also occurred in social customs. At the beginning of the year, UAE allowed unmarried couples to live together and enabled expats to divorce under their home countries' laws, a move seen by many as a step away from UAE’s ultra-conservative Sharia Law.

“We are building the new 50 years’ economy,” Thani al-Zeyoudi, the minister of state for foreign trade, said in an interview with The Associated Press, adding that free trade and openness have long made UAE a major global entrepot. “Anyone who is trying to be more conservative and trying to close their markets, the value is going to be only in the short term, but in the long term, they’re harming their economies.”