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Dubai to Attract Over 600 New Web3 Ventures by End of 2023 With Heavily Subsidised Commercial License

Dubai’s move to extend heavily subsidised commercial license for enterprises in the AI and Web 3.0 sector is predicted to lead to an immediate spike in web3-centric investments across UAE, attracting over 600 new ventures in the sector by end of 2023, industry experts said.

The emirate’s latest regulatory masterstroke, coming amidst policy ambiguity towards the sector in countries such as the US, is seen as part of a well-calculated strategy to make Dubai a web3 hub for attracting global talent to make it a tech powerhouse.

The UAE is currently estimated to have about 400 ventures in the web3 sector.

The Dubai AI and Web 3.0 Campus, the emirate’s dedicated centre for AI and web3 innovation, announced last week that it would issue artificial intelligence (AI) and Web3 licenses to support a wide range of activities in the sector.

The AI and Web3 License will be a 90 percent subsidised commercial license for enterprises looking to set up their business in Dubai. Besides, the Campus will also provide world-class physical and digital infrastructure to build and scale tech firms.

These licenses will be issued by Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) to enterprises with physical offices and co-working spaces in the Centre’s ‘Innovation One’ building.

Move to lead to a surge in web3-centric investments

“With the latest positive move, we can expect a surge in web3-centric investments across UAE as it will encourage a lot of entrepreneurs to make Dubai their base for expanding in the MENA region,” Manan Vora, SVP – strategy and business operations at Liminal, a wallet infrastructure and custody solutions platform

“Companies using blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies are growing rapidly in the city. There are already about 400 of these companies, and by the end of the year, the number is expected to cross 1000,” he added.

The projected surge in web3-centric investments in the UAE assumes added significance as global consultancy major PwC estimates AI to contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

Another report by McKinsey projected AI to create about 200,000 jobs in the Middle East alone by 2025.

Vora said the DIFC Innovation Hub has already been at the forefront when it comes to supporting innovative ideas and nurturing web3 startups by implementing business-friendly policies, and the latest move will further accentuate its status as the fast emerging global ‘bright spot’ for web3 companies.

He said the timing of the move is also significant as it comes at a time when advanced markets such as the US are seeing some regulatory ambiguity towards the sector.

DIFC targets a wide range of segments within AI, web3

The Dubai AI and Web 3.0 Campus said the new licenses will be issued for supporting a wide range of activities such as Distributed Ledger Technology Services, specialised AI research and consultancies, IT infrastructure builders, Technology Research and Development and Public Networking Services.

Denis Sklyarov, Co-Founder and CEO of WiFi Map, the New York-headquartered crypto-centric DeWi app, said by creating an environment that nurtures and supports emerging tech sectors, Dubai is positioning itself as a global leader in the digital realm.

“We believe this [the latest regulatory announcement] strategic step will undoubtedly attract a wave of forward-thinking companies, enriching the ecosystem and contributing to the growth of the MENA region as a tech powerhouse,”

He said Dubai’s bold move to offer a substantial 90 percent discount on commercial licenses for AI and web3 businesses also reflects its unwavering commitment to fostering innovation and technological advancement.

“This initiative aligns seamlessly with WiFi Map’s mission to be at the forefront of cutting-edge technology and solutions.

The latest announcement by the Dubai AI and Web 3.0 Campus is seen as a move to position itself to become the largest cluster of AI and web3 companies in the region to cash in on the projected growth in the sector.

The Campus is reportedly planning to attract over $300 million in capital and create an additional 3,000 jobs by 2028.


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