Property

Web3 transforming UAE real estate landscape – DAMAC Properties’ GM says

Speaking at Dubai Metaverse Assembly, Ali Sajwani said online-only transactions are accounting for an increasing proportion of DAMAC Properties’ real-estate activity

Fully interactive virtual real estate and communities designed in the metaverse are driving significant growth in DAMAC Properties’ pure online sales, Ali Sajwani, General Manager of Operations at DAMAC Properties and CEO of D-Labs, said while speaking at the Dubai Metaverse Assembly.

Speaking alongside fellow Web3 experts at the event, Sajwani stated that online-only transactions are accounting for an ever-increasing proportion of DAMAC Properties’ real-estate activity – approximately $100mn per quarter, at present. He added that the UAE-based developer has set a target of growing this figure to $150mn per month by mid-2023.

In addition to Sajwani, the Dubai Metaverse Assembly’s ‘Sector Deep-Dive: Opportunities in Virtual Real Estate’ panel featured Joe Abi Akl, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Group, Guy Parsonage, Partner and Leader at PwC Experience Center, and Sam Hamilton, Creative Director at Decentraland Foundation.

At its recent Digital Construction Summit, Big Project Middle East put together several regional experts to discuss what the metaverse means for the construction sector.

Speaking in front of delegates during the panel discussion, Sajwani said: “When the global pandemic hit, DAMAC Properties started an online-only channel for sales. We would sell to our customers using Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and these sales are substantial. We now generate over $100mn per quarter using that channel. But as you will appreciate, conversions tend to be low because this is not an immersive experience, so we took the decision to invest in the metaverse, creating digital twins of all our assets and communities to allow our customers to inspect the villas and apartments they wish to purchase virtually.”

The metaverse, also known as Web3, is increasingly being used by real estate developers to host digital twins, virtual facsimiles of real-world structures and communities. In conjunction with virtual reality (VR) technology, these models not only enable investors to view and inspect properties from anywhere on the planet, but they can also be used to supplement owners’ physical assets by allowing them to engage with digital environments, DAMAC noted.

Sajwani and his fellow panellists discussed a range of topics related to real estate and Web3, including the burgeoning virtual-only property sector, how the technology is being leveraged to engage prospective investors, and the trends and opportunities we can expect to see as the metaverse develops.

In June 2022, Sajwani explained how the UAE is future-proofing by being a metaverse champion.

Commenting on the importance of leveraging Web3-specific talent and expertise, Sajwani added: “What’s key for organisations that want to move into this space is to set up a separate entity and team. The talent in this space and the skillset; they tend to be younger people who may not be suited to typical corporate cultures. We set up an entity called D-Labs to work on the DAMAC Group metaverse project.”

Launched by DAMAC Properties’ parent company DAMAC Group in April 2022, D-Labs forms part of company-wide ambitions to catalyse advancements in digital assets and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), establishing the group as a leading global brand in the metaverse.

Those who invest in the developer’s digital real estate also gain access to its real-world amenities, including food and beverage (F&B) outlets, hotels, resorts and more, it added.

With up to $100mn of investment earmarked for the venture, D-Labs is working to develop a variety of virtual homes and communities, as well as digital wearables and jewellery from DAMAC-owned brands such as Roberto Cavalli and de GRISOGONO.

The Dubai Metaverse Assembly was hosted by the Dubai Future Foundation at the Museum of the Future from 28-29 September 2022. The global event brought together more than 300 regional and international experts from over 40 industry leaders who are playing an active role in shaping the Web3 landscape and capitalising on its potential applications.

Late in July 2022, Omnix Engineering’s Bhaskar Raman said that in the near future, cloud-based digital twins will serve predominantly as an asset management environment. In early September 2022, Virtuzone launched ‘The V’ tower in the metaverse.

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