A recent estimate suggests that the potential contribution of metaverse technology to the Saudi Arabian economy could amount to $7.6 billion per year by 2030. This is occurring in line with the Kingdom's efforts to gradually diversify its economy to meet the objectives outlined in Vision 2030.
Published by Strategy& Middle East, a member of the PwC network, the report also highlighted that alongside Saudi Arabia, the UAE's 3D-rendered internet sector has the potential to contribute around $3.3 billion by the end of this decade, in addition to the Kingdom.
Furthermore, it is anticipated that Qatar and Kuwait will benefit from innovative and developing technologies to the tune of $1.6 billion and $1 billion, respectively, by 2030.
POTENTIAL OVERALL IMPACT OF METAVERSE TECHNOLOGY IN THE GCC REGION
The possible contribution of metaverse technologies to the Gulf Cooperation Council economies could reach $15 billion per year by 2030. Over half of this annual contribution ($7.6 billion) is anticipated to occur in Saudi Arabia. But, the UAE is also anticipated to benefit a sizeable sum of $3.3 billion annually too.
The report also stated that the metaverse is still in its early stages. So, businesses within the GCC region need to act accordingly with metaverse technology to successfully capitalise on the emergent technology while also mitigating its potential risks and uncertainties too.
The estimates from Strategy& Middle East evaluated growth in terms of component technologies, platforms, hardware, and software. But, they also considered the economic impact of emerging metaverse applications such as content creation and retail, to name a few examples.
TRAVEL AND TOURISM TO BENEFIT THE MOST FROM METAVERSE TECHNOLOGY
The report also highlighted travel and tourism as the industry with the biggest potential economic gain from the metaverse. This is estimated at a gain of $3.2 billion.
The digital subsidiary of Saudi Arabia's $500 billion megacity NEOM has built a metaverse that enables users to engage within the virtual city and experience the city as an avatar or hologram.
Metaverse tours of AlUla, Saudi Arabia's first UNESCO World Heritage Site, have potential. But also, fashion festivals, spas, health retreats, and entertainment and sports events are likely targets for metaverse technology adoption. In-person travel is likely to be increasingly influenced by metaverse experiences of real places. On the other hand, travellers may also seek to relive past experiences in a specific place through the metaverse too.
Fares Akkad, regional director for Meta in the Middle East and North Africa, told Asharq Business earlier this month that the metaverse is expected to bring $360 billion to the MENA and Turkish region over the next ten years.
INITIATIVES TO STIMULATE METAVERSE GROWTH
Dubai publicly launched its Metaverse strategy in July, intending to become a major metaverse economy. In the next five years, the approach intends to add $4 billion to the national economy and generate 40,000 new employment.
In addition, the UAE has built the Middle East's first metaverse incubator 8 to foster the development of early-stage metaverse and Web3 apps.
OVERALL METAVERSE IMPLICATIONS
With the current rise of metaverse technology, a completely new hospitality and real estate experience is emerging. While still in its early development, the MENA region is well-positioned to integrate the technology and ultimately benefit substantially. Yet, despite being highly optimistic about its applications, many businesses across the region are taking a cautious approach given the relative infancy of the technology.