The concept of ‘virtual reality’ and the ‘metaverse’ has been around for years through gaming, films, and other kinds of simulators, but the technology is still fairly new. The world has been busy adapting to the digital age and experts in the realm are working towards introducing innovative methods and features so that we can interact in VR.
And then, there’s ‘blockchain technology’, which dates back to the early 1990s when Stuart Haber and W Scott Stornetta first worked on a chain of blocks, secured cryptographically, which meant that no one could tamper with timestamps of documents. This is known as the first recorded work of blockchain. The technology later picked up and gained relevance in 2008 when Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous creator of bitcoin, tapped into its potential. Both these technologies have been developing over the last 10 years and continue to evolve and improve.
Kristel Bechara. Wings of Glory. UAE NFT, From Desert To Mars collection.
Fast forward to present day and the rise of non-fungible tokens, or NFTs has riveted attention and led to an influx of retail investors and collectors in the space. Among the key NFT collections are CryptoPunks, Bored Ape Yacht Club, and Azuki, which have garnered sales worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, with influencers and high-profile figures flaunting them in Web3, the new iteration of the World Wide Web. Sales like Beeple’s record-breaking Everydays: The First 5000 Days, which raked in $69 million at Christie’s last year, have captured the public’s attention and created an interest in the area that extends beyond curiosity.
On the personal front, I entered the space over a year ago and it became my personal mission to educate more people about the new technology in our region. I decided to launch my first project ‘From Desert to Mars’, offering the artwork collection free of cost. The launch took place on 2 December 2021 to commemorate the UAE’s golden jubilee, and my vision was to demonstrate how our country reached Mars in only 50 years.
The collection comprised seven international artists and each piece had 1971 editions, referencing the year in which the UAE was born. Among the creatives who participated were Emirati artist Mattar Bin Lahej, who launched his first NFT, and Dubai-based Lebanese artist Kristel Bechara. Also part of the roster were Kurdish Kaiwan Shaban, Arefeh Norouzi from Iran, Emirati Jasim Al Bulushi, Anantha Krishnan Nadamel from India, and French Thomas Dubois. The NFTs were launched on the website Uaenft.io and all 13,000 editions were collected in just seven days.
Jasim Al Bulushi. Desert To Mars. UAE NFT, From Desert To Mars collection.
This is just the beginning. I’ve formed a new company named BEDU, which will be a pioneer in the Web3 space, blockchain solutions and the metaverse. We’re finding ourselves in the midst of what’s being called the ‘digital renaissance’, which can be described as the shift from Web2 to Web3. Within the next three-to-five years, I envision that there will be a drastic change in how people and businesses use technology to interact with each other and perform transactions. Indicators of this include major banks buying large sums of crypto, such as ETH and XRP, to prepare for a future that will be backed by blockchain.
Time is sped up significantly in the Web3 space—it can be said that one week in the sphere is equivalent to six months in real time. The metaverse is fast becoming a virtual hub where many people transact and spend their time. Major projects like Cool Monkeys and Fishy Farm have purchased their own virtual NFT worlds (pricing up to 15 Ethereum), where their holders can come together and connect. This is just one of the many examples that demonstrate that this technology is not only being used now but will also continue to thrive in the future. Web3 has only begun opening up to the world and there’s much more to be explored. It’s time to join the movement.
Coverimage: Thomas Dubois. Beginnings Pearl. UAE NFT, From Desert to Mars collection.
Images Courtesy of Khaled Al Huraimel & UAE NFT
Khaled Al Huraimel is the Group CEO of BEE’AH Group since 2009. As a futurist, he recognises sustainability and digitalisation as twin pillars of a modern economy, which drive his experience as a tech entrepreneur and AI thought leader, and in leading groundbreaking innovations across the Group’s businesses. He’s passionate about helping shape the digital economy and founding technology-based start-ups like BEDU, which has launched several NFT and Web3 projects. He’s the author of the book Reimaging Business with AI, published by Wiley in 2020. Follow @Uae.nft on Instagram