A new report has found that the UAE has emerged as one of the global leaders in adopting and investing in metaverse technologies, positioning its tourism industry well for the virtual world. The metaverse is expected to significantly impact travel and hospitality over the next decade as more experiences move online.

The report published by Strategy&, a part of the PwC network, analyzed metaverse adoption and readiness across different countries. It revealed that the UAE has taken an early lead in areas like virtual tourism projects, metaverse infrastructure development and investments in artificial intelligence (AI) critical for powering immersive digital worlds. 

Some of the key initiatives highlighted include Dubai’s metaverse strategy and plans to become a global metaverse hub. The emirate is working with tech giants to create virtual replicas of popular tourist destinations on platforms like Meta’s Horizon Worlds. Abu Dhabi has also launched virtual tours of key attractions on metaverse apps. 

The UAE is one of the top investors globally in AI and has invested heavily in 5G networks, high-speed internet and cloud computing – core technologies required for advanced metaverse experiences. It is also using AI to digitally enhance airports and make travel seamless. Several metaverse-focused startup incubators and investment funds have been established in recent years.

The report predicts that the metaverse will contribute up to $16 billion annually to the UAE’s travel and tourism sector alone by 2035 as more activities shift online. Virtual travel will become mainstream with uses ranging from digital vacation planning to attending remote events in shared virtual worlds. 

Experts say the UAE’s early focus on the necessary infrastructure and enabling technologies has given it an edge over other countries in capitalizing on emerging opportunities. Virtual travel startups are already testing new business models for experiences like virtual tours, digital concerts and remote workations in the UAE metaverse.

The findings indicate that the UAE’s strategic investments are positioning it as a pioneer in virtual tourism globally. This is expected to drive future innovation and help attract more virtual visitors and businesses as the metaverse continues revolutionizing how people interact and experience travel online.