Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai Image Credit: Dubai Media Office

Dubai: Dubai’s new virtual assets regulator – VARA – is entering the Metaverse, the alternate world running on Augmented or Virtual Reality. VARA has launched a MetaHQ in ‘The Sandbox’, a virtual world that will be framework for the emerging Metaverse landscape.

The Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority thus becomes the ‘world’s first regulator to make its debut’ in the space. This way, VARA seeks to ‘ensure that the regulator is accessible to its industry in their environment,’ it said in a statement. And make for ‘collaborative engagement’ between global Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), industry leaders, and regulatory authorities.

VARA represents a serious effort to build a new, powerful economic sector that contributes to the nation's economy and creates new investment opportunities, and this is possible through the safe and modern regulatory solutions we envision

- Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

“Dubai maintains a leading position at the forefront of technological transformation," said Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of The Executive Council. "We have exceeded the role of an early adopter to become an innovator and participant in shaping the future of this technology.

"Today, VARA joins the Metaverse to become Dubai's - and the Metaverse's - first government authority, ushering in a new era in which Dubai Government utilises modern innovations to extend its services and regulatory power to audiences in an open technological expanse, without constraints or borders. Our presence in the Metaverse therefore marks the beginning of a new phase in the Dubai Government's march for the future; one that will have a positive impact in the long run.”

Separate regulator

VARA was launched by Dubai in March as part of a wider agenda setting in the virtual assets world. It establishes a ‘secure and progressive operating framework’ for the virtual asset sector to scale, while ‘assuring market and investor protection’.

VARA will regulate the governing principles of the services and activities, ‘rather than the continually-evolving products and underlying technologies’.

“VARA has been established as a mission-focused regulator, to nurture and safely scale a rapidly decentralising business landscape founded on four cornerstone principles - secure cross-border interoperability, informed investor adoption, market protection prioritisation and responsible industry participation," Sheikh Hamdan added.

First mover advantages
Dubai’s VARA will join other private sector entities, innovators and market makers across the IT space, and financial and professional service providers in the Metaverse. The AR world has already roped purveyors of lifestyle, entertainment and consumer goods.

The ‘VARA MetaHQ will serve as its primary channel to engage Virtual Assets Service Providers to initiate applications, enable younger licensees enter the metaverse, openly share knowledge and experiences with consumers and peer regulators to raise awareness, enable safe adoption, and drive global interoperability’.

Acquire the ‘land’

As part of this move, VARA will acquire ‘land’ – or rights – in the Metaverse. “The onus is on us as government to be the bridge that allows investors and consumers to safely adopt, and collaboratively scale the economy,” said Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, which oversees all of Dubai’s plans in the new emerging digital space.

“In addition to yielding direct economic benefit and GDP acceleration for Dubai, the VARA sees this as the first step towards shared learning and expertise development across global regulators, so that the international community can benefit from a virtual economy that has been allowed to scale safely and sustainably.”

The alternate AR world of Metaverse is fast becoming a reality, and Dubai's VARA becomes the world's first regulator to have a presence there. Image Credit: Gulf News Archive