The year 2022 was an eventful year for crypto, with the industry shaving more than $2 trillion off its market cap. Beyond falling prices and rising confidence, a spate of bad actors and fraudulent practices did little to bolster the industry’s weak reputation—only eight percent of Americans now have a positive view of crypto. Despite the damning numbers, it’s not all doom and gloom for the blockchain space. While their counterparts were busy blowing up, the serious contenders continued to build and regions like the UAE or the Middle East emerged as crypto-friendly hubs.
With blockchain growing rapidly, recent reports suggest more than $78 billion in remittance payments between Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, as they make up the top 30 global remittance lists. The UAE government has been particularly supportive of blockchain technology in recent years, with a number of initiatives to propel the country to the forefront of blockchain adoption. Some of these efforts include the Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, which aimed to digitize at least 50 percent of public transactions, the Dubai blockchain strategy to make Dubai the “happiest city on earth” and the first to be fully powered by blockchain technology , and the Dubai metaverse strategy to make Dubai one of the world’s top 10 metaverse economies, creating more than 40,000 virtual roles by 2030.
With easy regulatory authorities and progressive financial regulations, Dubai and the United Arab Emirates have positioned themselves at the top to become an emerging crypto hub, while some others still struggle to regulate or even ban crypto trading. Data suggests more than 8,000 active individuals in the Web3 space solely within the MENA region, with heavyweights such as Crypto.com, Binance or The Hashgraph Association thriving in the region.
To promote the use of decentralized finance among young entrepreneurs, The Hashgraph Association has already partnered with Orange to support blockchain and fintech startups. Hedera’s grant program also plans to expand to the UAE through the launch of Hashgraph Ventures from ADGM and several key large corporate collaborations within the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates was recently named the world’s second most attractive place to move for work in the digital sector by the Boston Consulting Group, and major hot spots Abu Dhabi and Dubai were listed in the top 10 cities for finding digital talent. Kamal Youssefi, president of the board of The Hashgraph Association, emphasized the UAE’s appeal for blockchain companies, citing its innovative regulations, strong talent base and diverse community. “I have just returned from the board meetings held at Google’s campus in San Francisco, and it was agreed that the UAE’s innovative regulations, strong talent base and diverse community make it an attractive destination for blockchain companies.
Dubai has become an important hub to support our activities in the region and increase the use of the Hedera Hashgraph ecosystem in the Middle East, says Youssefi. Among Hedera’s board members are Google, Dell, IBM, Boeing, Chainlink Labs, Deutsche Telekom, EDF (Électricité de France), LG Electronics, Ubisoft, University College London and others. The UAE’s ambitions to be the world’s first blockchain-powered city will need powerful technology that can accommodate the masses, and the burgeoning blockchain-based businesses expanding in the region will contribute to the goal. Dubai’s use of blockchain technology involves a holistic approach that encompasses not only technical aspects, but also regulatory frameworks, partnerships and ecosystem development. “Hedera has been built from the ground up with enterprise and government use in mind, which is why the platform is managed by a collective of some of the world’s foremost technology, financial and educational institutions,” Hederas Youssefi continued in a statement.
In addition to being selected by the DIFC Courts and building the distributed ledger technology ecosystems with Hedera technology and major telecom providers, Zain has also joined the Hedera board. The outlook for 2023 and beyond Despite the broader bearish market conditions, Youssefi is not the only champion of industrial growth in this region. The UAE’s blockchain ambitions extend beyond trade finance. Recently, the government of Abu Dhabi announced the launch of a metaverse gaming initiative, which foresees a global industry estimated to be worth Dh3.55 trillion by 2030. Researchers expect significant growth in digital collectibles, non-fungible tokens (NFTs) and games -and- earn games in the blockchain gaming sector in 2023.
Hedera has already witnessed the launch of a Web3 game development initiative by Animoca brands and the introduction of a new competitive feature in the popular online battle royale game, Apex Legends through an EA-licensed eSports platform created by former Amazon and Meta developers , built on Hedera. Youssefi further emphasized the role of Hedera’s low fees, fast transaction times and fast finality in facilitating the growth of gaming projects. He expressed optimism about the continued expansion of blockchain applications in the Middle East. “We are extremely positive about the continued growth of DeFi, gaming, trade finance and other projects that can lower costs and expand accessibility for millions of underserved people in the MENA region,” Youssefi added.
User experience (UX) is another area that Youssefi expects to see a boost in the coming months. “With the collapse of FTX and other major industry players, 2022 highlighted the importance of self-storage,” he says, “but the fact is that [self-custody] is still too difficult for the average user. The industry must strive for ways to make it easier for people to embrace this technology. Therefore, we have designed the Hedera platform to be as accessible as possible. Developers can easily build decentralized applications (dApps) without having to learn new languages on the Hedera platform.” With so much building across key verticals in the blockchain space and notable government initiatives in booming countries like the UAE, it’s hard not to feel optimistic considering the outlook for this industry – in 2023 and beyond.
— Carolyna Mavis is a freelance writer.
Copyright © 2022 Khaleej Times. All rights reserved. Provided by SyndiGate Media Inc. (Syndigate.info).