Seoul, Dubai, Santa Monica Named Among Leaders in Metaverse in WEF Report

The metaverse sector, although gradually, is showing signs of growth and adoption in different parts of the world. Citing a report by technology intelligence firm ABI Research, the World Economic Forum (WEF) said that nearly 700 cities will have some kind of a metaverse infrastructure by the year 2030. As of now, however, South Korea’s Seoul, UAE’ Dubai, and US’ Santa Monica have been named in the report as the leading cities of the international metaverse sector.

Listing the benefits of cities exploring the metaverse, WEF said this virtual world ecosystem brings along cost savings related to the design, operation, and maintenance of urban infrastructure while also helping city leaders gain ‘political capital’ if the city’s population becomes tech friendly.

“As cities look to decarbonise, digital twin technologies can help by enhancing urban design through simulation, planification and optimisation,” the report highlighted.

In the US, Santa Monica is the first city to lets users go about the city through a metaverse-enabled social media app called Flick.

“FlickPlay encourages people to walk through real places to find scarce digital tokens, which can be collected and then used to unlock videos with rare filters that you can show off to your friends. By moving people through parts of cities that are less travelled, FlickPlay can also create new economic activity while reducing crime,” it explained.

Dubai is viewing metaverse as an essential part its economic growth campaign that is expected to stand among world’s top cities in terms of GDP. To strengthen its position in the sector, Dubai is looking to attract 1,000 firms working in the blockchain and metaverse sectors. In the next seven years, Dubai aims to be home to over 40,000 Web3 professionals. As per WEF’s research, more than 50 percent consumers in Dubai look forward to creating and monetising content in the metaverse, the report said. While 60 percent consumers see the metaverse as a business opportunity, 78 percent brands wish to be more engaged with Web3.

“Dubai will develop Web3 technology and its applications to enhance new ways of working in tourism, education, retail, healthcare and remote work. How will the city achieve this? By fostering innovation, increasing research and development, while boosting talent and investment by helping developers, content creators and digital platform users to get support in education on all things metaverse,” the report noted.

As for Seoul, the growth of the metaverse in South Korea is completely being backed by the government there. The Asian country has already committed $180 million (roughly Rs 1,500 crore) to the development of a national metaverse ecosystem. The phase one of Metaverse Seoul lets residents download the world’s first urban metaverse app and use it to play games, experience city attractions, and complete mundane tasks.

“Metaverse Seoul phase two will bring in more services from 2024 that include connecting local industries with foreign investors, while the final phase will integrate virtual and augmented reality technology into the day-to-day running of the city’s infrastructure,” the WEF report claimed.

Mark Zuckerberg went bullish on the metaverse tech when he rebranded Facebook to Meta in September 2021. Despite incurring back-to-back losses in its metaverse-dedicated unit, Zuckerberg has kept his faith intact on this branch of emerging technology.

As per Statista, it was estimated that the global metaverse market stood at $65.5 billion (roughly Rs. 5,44,035 crore) in 2022. This year, the market is expected to rise to $82 billion (roughly Rs. 6,81,082 crore), before surging to $936.6 billion (roughly Rs. 77,79,526 crore) by 2030.

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