Dubai virtual assets regulatory body launches sandbox-based metaverse HQ

Dubai has been driving towards becoming more friendly to the digital assets and blockchain industry. In a further push to achieve this, Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) has launched a virtual headquarters in the metaverse.

VARA stated in a press release that it is launching VARA MetaHQ, a virtual office in sandbox—a blockchain-based 3D virtual open world. The virtual office will enable the regulator to have first-hand experience of the industry it was set up to regulate.

With the launch, VARA has also become the first regulator to have a virtual headquarters in the metaverse. During the inauguration, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, said that VARA’s MetaHQ places Dubai among blockchain innovators.

“Dubai maintains a leading position at the forefront of technological transformation. We have exceeded the role of an early adopter to become an innovator and participant in shaping the future of this technology,” he said.

He added that Dubai is creating “a prototype Decentralized Regulator Model” that can be emulated by other regulators to ensure that “the dynamic virtual assets sector to build economic resilience, accelerate social inclusion, and address environmental sustainability.”

For his part, Helal Saeed Almarri, Director-General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, commented the move emphasizes Dubai’s belief that virtual assets are the “driver of the global future economy.”

Dubai’s other strides in digital currency regulations

The metaverse launch is highly commendable for the very young digital assets regulator. VARA was set up back in March to oversee the regulation of digital assets. At the time, Dubai also introduced legislation to direct the regulation of the industry.

The government of Dubai has often expressed that it is aiming to become a global hub for digital currencies. This ambition mirrors the desire of its other sister emirates that form the UAE which intends for 50% of all government services to be on-chain.

Dubai’s efforts at providing regulatory clarity for digital currencies have been paying off. In the past few months, it has successfully licensed several globally represented digital currency firms.

However, embracing digital currencies has not come without a price. According to CNBC, while the emirate is attracting a massive influx of talents, entrepreneurs, and investment, it is also coming under increasing scrutiny from its international partners. Recently, the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) placed the UAE on its “gray list” of countries that need extra monitoring.

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