Dubai companies are boarding the metaverse to improve customer engagement


DUBAI: Major Dubai-based companies are racing against time to create metaverses or immersive virtual worlds to boost their sales prospects and disrupt customer experiences in their respective industries.

Real estate major Damac has invested up to AED367 million ($100 million) to develop and monetize a metaverse that could allow potential clients to virtually check out their luxury properties, choose an apartment, explore options furniture and play with the paraphernalia offered.

Called D-Labs, the metaverse platform will create digital replicas of their top projects, including Damac Hills, Damac Lagoons, De Grisogono’s Safa and Cavalli Tower in Dubai. It will also host other notable projects such as Damac Tower Nine Elms in London and the upcoming Cavalli Residences in Miami.

So how does it work? First, a potential client in any part of the world can meet the Damac Properties sales agent inside the metaverse instead of connecting through a Zoom call. Then, inside the metaverse, the prospect can visit the apartment and pay for the unit at checkout.

“We sell around AED 100 million per month on Zoom calls without any immersive technology. With the metaverse, we can sell AED 700-800 million per month to any customer in California, New York or Miami,” said Ali Sajwani, Chief Operating Officer at Damac and CEO of D-Labs , to Arab News.

The company, which does $5 billion in real estate business each year, expects to raise $6.5 billion a year using the metaverse, Sajwani added.

We sell around AED 100 million per month on Zoom calls without any immersive technology. With the metaverse, we can sell AED 700-800 million per month to any customer in California, New York or Miami.

Ali Sajwani, Chief Operating Officer at Damac

Disruption potential

Metaverse owes much of its success to its disruptive nature that displaces traditional ways of viewing a category and creates a new business model. Gone are the days when property buyers would do business based on brochures and project plans.

Instead, not only do they engage in real time with the property, but they now have the ability to purchase things during their virtual tours. In the case of D-Labs, customers could also choose from a host of non-fungible tokens or rare digital items on offer and sell them for a better price at a later date. The company, for example, will soon offer a variety of NFTs, including digital clothing and jewelry.

“The idea is that you own your real and virtual assets. As part of our De Grisogono relaunch, we will also be offering digital jewelry. However, the goal is to convert that customer into an owner of real assets, not just digital,” Sajwani said.

According to management consultancy McKinsey & Co., more than $120 billion was invested globally in building metaverse technologies and infrastructure in the first five months of 2022. That’s more than double the 57 billion dollars invested in 2021.

The company recently surveyed more than 3,400 consumers worldwide and found that two-thirds are thrilled with the transition of everyday activities to the Metaverse, especially when it comes to connecting with people, exploring virtual worlds and collaborate with remote colleagues.

“Our bottom-up view of consumer and enterprise use cases suggests it (the metaverse) could generate up to $5 trillion in impact by 2030,” said Eric Hazan, senior partner at McKinsey. in the study.

Strategy in motion

To make this revolutionary concept a reality, the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, recently announced the Dubai Metaverse Strategy, which aims to increase the contribution of the metaverse sector to the economy of the emirate to 4 billion dollars by 2030.

Given the proactive role of government, companies are now looking for ways to develop metaverse platforms that could launch pilot activities, study consumer behavior, learn from real-time interactions, and nurture the business model.

Emirates Airline, another early adopter of the metaverse, has also announced that it will soon offer a slice of immersive technology, where the customer can practically savor the travel experience on board the premium airline.

“These projects will enable customers to transform their entire process, whether it’s a business operation, training, or sales force, into an interactive experience in the metaverse,” said Adel Ahmed Al-Redha, Chief Operating Officer of Emirates, during a panel discussion with the press.

These projects will allow customers to transform their entire process, whether it is a business operation, training or sales force, into an interactive experience in the metaverse.

Adel Ahmed Al-Redha, Chief Operating Officer of Emirates

As part of its metaverse offerings, the customer can tour the aircraft and experience economy, business and first class, in addition to selecting their seats and the food and drink of their choice.

“Customers can also visit the airport, shop duty-free and buy their sit-at-home items, which can be delivered to their doorstep or on the plane,” he added.

It was not a new idea for Emirates to digitize. Yet they didn’t have the technology to do so and are currently cooperating with different tech companies “to make sure we get the right thing,” Al-Redha said.

Al-Redha is among the league of forward-thinking business leaders reaping the rewards of first-mover advantage. It will be interesting to see how they use this fresh produce technology to disrupt their business models and create new avatars of consumer engagement.

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