Welcome to the metaverse—a world of possibilities that extends beyond next-generation gaming and internet-based home buying or shopping. The metaverse will change how we work, transact, plan, design, build, shop, recreate, travel, and live.
The metaverse’s potential to energize and transform key sectors in the GCC countries is enormous. The region is already seizing the opportunity, with important metaverse initiatives in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The metaverse’s potential contribution to GCC economies could be around US$15 billion by 2030. Metaverse elements and applications are developing swiftly. Business leaders should immediately begin preparing strategically and technologically to take advantage of the metaverse’s transformative possibilities.
Precisely because the metaverse is in its infancy and its underlying technologies and structures are still developing, defining it can be slippery. The metaverse is neither a place nor a technology. Instead, think of it as the culmination of the evolving human–computer interface. Consider how that interaction has grown. The earliest days of the computer era featured mainframes and punch cards. Then, we had the personal computer with its screen and mouse. Today, we hold in our hands mobile devices with touch screens, we use voice activation, and apps are hyper-personalized. We play and interact through augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). Then, from that long chain of ever-intensifying human–computer connection and communication, we have created the metaverse, the ultimate interaction of humans and computers, an experience unlike anything that came before it.
The metaverse is a convergence of technologies: an assemblage that creates a pervasive, immersive simulated experience so realistic that it is a parallel to reality. It can also be as intense as reality, because metaverse interaction is more than a solo experience. The metaverse allows groups of users to experience a simulated world together.
“Overall, we estimate the metaverse will inject $15 billion into GCC economies by 2030.”
The road ahead is likely to be winding and long. The underlying technologies of the metaverse are complex, are not fully developed, and interact in complicated ways. Governments and companies need to resolve various regulatory issues, particularly those regarding data privacy, data storage, and financial services. There are risks, known and unforeseeable, that could trigger setbacks or disappointment. However, not one of these issues is stopping the metaverse, as the growing number of metaverse applications in the GCC demonstrates. As the metaverse’s theoretical and practical issues are overcome, the promise of value creation can only grow.