The Metaverse and How the Arab World is Increasing its Presence
By: Caroline Umphlet / Arab America Contributing Writer
The online world is expanding every day. We can order groceries, furniture, and practically any item we want right to our doorstep with the click of a button or two. The globe has maneuvered around the pandemic by switching jobs, classes, and even entire companies to an online format. Virtual entertainment has boomed exponentially as well in the past decade. There are thousands of online videogames circulating where people can play with someone across the world. However, the metaverse takes any video game to the next level and the Arab World is slowly increasing its presence.
What is the Metaverse? The Basics
The metaverse is described in many different ways, but it is essentially a virtual-reality online universe. Some even say the metaverse is too early to give a certain definition because it is still being developed. Anything is possible in the metaverse, like a facebook platform, 3D video games, or different expos. There are different worlds or realms to choose from, each with different members and purposes.
Every company wants a hand in the metaverse for publicity and outreach. Companies are starting to invest in games and worlds for the money and also the advertisement. Some people are even trying to use the metaverse to host professional events like meetings and conferences. Unlike Zoom or Skype, where most corporate meetings are held, the metaverse has no limit to participants. The goal is to have a more engaging experience, like a socializing event rather than listening to a lecture/speech.
Virtual and augmented realities fall under the umbrella of the metaverse. Virtual reality programs are designed for the user to wear a headset that only allows them to see the screen. It is paired with hand controls to hold that when moved in the real world, move their mouse in the program so it feels like the player is physically in a virtual dimension. It is meant to be a completely immersive experience.
Augmented reality, on the other hand, shows the user digital images over their screen, but in addition to what they or the camera would already be seeing. For example, the popular app Pokémon Go has the device show a creature “standing” where the user points the camera.
Relating to the Arab World
The metaverse, whether intentional or not, slightly levels the playing field among huge businesses and smaller ones or individuals. Anyone can create a platform in the metaverse or invest. However, it is unfair that places with underdeveloped communication networks, like places in Lebanon, Syria, and Palestine, do not have equal access to 5G networks. This does hinder their ability to participate due to virtual reality requiring memory space and a considerable amount of usage.
On July 8th, Nancy Ajram, a popular Lebanese singer had an event in the metaverse recently. On July 8th, she performed a concert in world called “decentraland” to launch her single “Sah Sah” produced by popular American icon Marshmello.
Real estate in the metaverse, buying virtual land, is already showing a profit. Large companies like JP Morgan and Samsung have bought plots, among other global corporations. Owning real estate in the metaverse can be for personal use, similar to having a website. One can build a house or area to store their belongings or set up a store. Some people are also buying real estate now as an investment to be sold in the future. A common thought among the Arab world is to buy Palestinian land in the metaverse, as a statement but also to develop as their own.
Only the future knows what the metaverse will evolve into, if anything more. Although it might be risky to put money into the metaverse, the Arab world is setting the stage to become a major player in the online world.
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