A private real estate development company in the UAE is stretching its imagination to new heights, as it looks to expand its portfolio of luxury property into the virtual world. The Damac Group – the parent company of international property development company-Damac Properties, data centre firm Edgenex, luxury jeweller de-Grisogono and the fashion house Roberto Cavalli – is declaring plans to embark into the universe of the metaverse and build its very own virtual cities, becoming one of the pioneers in the GCC to do so.
According to Mohamed Ali Alabbar, board member of Damac Group and chairman of Emaar Properties PJSC, this is a step to branch out its services to cater to the needs of the whole Group when it comes to digital or virtual assets – ranging from virtual homes to digital property, as well as digital wearables, and digital jewellery through the company’s accretion of Swiss jewellers de-Grisogono, along with Italian fashion brand Roberto Cavalli, respectively. Digital experiences will also be presented, where guests will be allowed to get a virtual treat of the Mandarin Oriental Resort Bolidhuffaru. There are three main areas where they will be investing.
In an interview with Gulf News tabloid! chairman Hussain Sajwani spoke about the new project, which will be the first of its kind in the GCC region. “We are one of the few people who have actually developed a strategy that we are implementing right now,” he said. He went on to talk about how this move could help usher in a new era for his group and others like it, saying: “Think about what happened with mobile phone companies after Apple came up with the iPhone – everyone had to develop an app, not just Facebook and all the other social media companies.” Sajwani added that he thinks this will push other businesses to follow suit and create their own versions of digital experiences for customers. Hussain Sajwani, also mentioned that in an attempt to mold to the progressive trends of business, they are expanding their offerings into the metaverse realm to avail of the many opportunities it presents. They are keen to be the first to explore the possibilities that the metaverse offers in ways which permits them to be more well connected and involved with their clients and their preferences. Staying committed to its stakeholders, prevailing customers of Damac will be prioritized for investing in these digital assets once plans have spread out.
The Group strategizes to invest capital of US$100 million for the project. The maneuver forms part of the company-wide ambitions to advance into digital assets and non-fungible tokens (NFT), and he is tasked in yielding the organization’s goal to be a leading international digital brand. The real estate developer announced that it has formed a new digital arm under the leadership of Jassem Bukhamseen, an expert in blockchain technology and digital assets.
In an interview with Reuters, Bukhamseen talked about plans for creating virtual worlds where people can live, play, work and entertain themselves. He added that Damac would develop these digital cities using “non-fungible tokens”—a form of blockchain-based digital asset that has recently become popular among investors. Damac’s digital cities will be called “Ara” and will cater to specific communities within the metaverse. To get a foothold on this new frontier, Damac will create its own currency for these virtual worlds.