Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are already heavily invested in the development of the Metaverse, and the tech startups are playing a pivotal role in its construction. According to a recent report compiled by Strategy& Middle East, that investment will likely pay off to the tune of a cool $15 billion in annual revenue by 2030.
“The projections assessed growth in the component technologies, platforms, hardware, and software, as well as the economic contribution of new metaverse applications such as content creation, shopping, and so on,” says Tony G. Karam, partner at Strategy& Middle East.
Out of the seven Emirates, Dubai is emerging as the pre-eminent metaverse economy. Experts predict that the region’s digital strategy will bring a $4 billion boost to GDP, with 40,000 new jobs created in the process. The UAE as a whole has embraced Web3.0 enthusiastically and recently established the first metaverse incubator.
Meanwhile, in Saudi Arabia, NEOM — a $500 billion futuristic metropolis on the Red Sea — will also build a parallel digital version of its cityscape, enabling people to coexist in both the real world and the Metaverse simultaneously.
“The Metaverse holds a world of possibilities that extends beyond next-generation gaming and internet-based home buying or shopping. It will change how we work, transact, plan, design, build, shop, recreate, travel, and live. In a regional context, the Metaverse’s potential to energize and transform key sectors in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries is enormous,” says Dany Karam, partner at Strategy& Middle East.
Breaking down Strategy&’s predicted annual raise in GDP reveals the following figures:
- Saudi Arabia: $7.6 billion
- UAE: $3.3 billion
- Qatar: $1.6 billion
- Kuwait: $ 1 billion
- Oman: $0.8 billion
- Bahrain: $0.4 billion
Although the Metaverse is still relatively unknown to the general public, experts believe that in the near future, a thriving digital tourism sector will emerge, with tours to famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites, concerts, festivals and sports events all having their own digital versions.
LEAP 2024 Will Shine A Light On Female Innovators In Technology
Women comprise nearly a third of the event’s speaker lineup alongside a dedicated program of high-level content, investment, and mentorship.
LEAP 2024, a premier global technology event, will highlight the achievements of women in the technology sector as it returns for its third edition at the Riyadh Exhibition and Convention Centre in Malham district from March 4 to 7.
Hosted by Tahaluf, a strategic collaboration between Informa PLC, the Events Investment Fund (EIF), and the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming, and Drones (SAFCSP), LEAP 2024 will feature a dedicated program titled “Women in Tech”. The program will offer enriching content, investment opportunities, networking sessions, mentorship programs, and a special startup award.
The initiative aims to inspire women to actively participate in the technology industry, aligning with broader diversity efforts. Reflecting the Kingdom’s commitment to equality, the focus on “Women in Tech” coincides with the increasing female participation at LEAP events.
Annabelle Mander, Senior Vice President of Tahaluf, emphasized the event’s commitment to gender inclusivity, stating, “Female representation is across all of LEAP’s features and reflects the event’s mission of driving economic diversification and providing market access to international business. Within Tahaluf itself, half of our team members are women, and women make up half of our SMT, too”.
The “Women in Tech” program will feature distinguished speakers including Nadine Hachach Haram, CEO and Founder of Proximie, and Sahar Albanarna from IMPACTIQUE Bahrain, who explained: “Over 26 million women worldwide with professional experience and degrees are not in the global workplace. This demographic includes a huge pool of untapped talent which technology can help unleash to fuel the co-creation of exponential solutions across multiple sectors. To help women access productive employment, we urge industry leaders to support high-impact female entrepreneurs as a means to boost their economies and accelerate the UN’s sustainable development goals by promoting inclusive and sustainable economic growth”.
The event will also provide a platform for female-led startups and entrepreneurs to pitch for funding and support through various initiatives such as the Women’s Investor Forum, Entrepreneur Mentorship Scheme, and the Aviatrix Award at the Rocket Fuel pitch competition, offering a prize fund of US$150,000.