The Metaverse strategy aims at increasing the number of companies and innovations.
Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor
For a country known for its high technology absorption, the UAE’s sizable per capita market share in blockchain and associated applications is not surprising. Be it cryptocurrencies, the metaverse, or NFTs, the UAE has emerged as the bedrock for new developments and breakthroughs. However, its eminence found a true meaning recently after Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, announced the Dubai Metaverse Strategy. A first-of-its-kind initiative in the world to be undertaken at the government level, the Dubai Metaverse Strategy has many implications for the nation’s, and the region’s, digital economy.
The Metaverse strategy is aimed at increasing the number of companies and innovations related to blockchain and metaverse by five times. In doing so, the government intends to support the creation of over 40,000 virtual jobs — all cumulatively expected to contribute Dhs 4 billion to the national economy over the next five years. The feasibility of these ambitious targets stems from the fact that the UAE already boasts a sizable blockchain-NFT-metaverse sector, with around 1,000 companies contributing about $500 million to the national economy.
The Dubai Metaverse Strategy also comes at a time when innovation linkages between different sectors are increasing considerably. This is to say, developments such as NFTs and the metaverse now find application across sectors such as hospitality, retail, and gaming. Likewise, technologies such as AR and VR now find advanced applications in the metaverse as well as traditionally conservative sectors like real estate. In response, forward-thinking, new-age digital marketers are widening their scope, to include metaverse, Web 3.0, and NFTs. “YAAP has been actively looking to expand its presence in the UAE in particular and the GCC region as a whole. The Crayons Communications acquisition comes at the right time and gives us a great platform to bring our award-winning services in Influencer Marketing & Performance Media to this part of the world. Crayons has a good foundation of established clients that will help us quickly ramp up our service offerings here. We want to be a dominant player in IM, Web 3.0 (with a focus on building for the metaverse), and media services. Going forward, as the markets correct globally, it presents us a great opportunity for more such acquisitions in this region,” said Atul Hegde, Founder of YAAP.
Atul’s words reflect the positive investor sentiment towards the UAE and other growth economies in the region. The acquisition of Crayons Communications, which boasts over 14 years of market presence in the Middle East, over 250 successful projects, and about 150 clients to date, is consistent with YAAP’s aspirations. From homegrown giants such as the Apparel Group and Kaya to MNCs such as Fitbit, Crayons Communications’ portfolio characterizes a rare balance of global-local clients and expertise developed by virtue of longevity in the region.
For YAAP’s part, it has offices in the UAE, India and Singapore. It has been on a stellar growth trajectory in recent months, having expanded its market footprint and offerings. YAAP’s impressive client portfolio includes Coca-Cola, Visit Dubai, Lufthansa, RuPay, American Express, Disney, Amazon, and Square Enix, among other leading brands. Following an impressive top-line growth of 97% and a 5X jump in profitability in FY21-22, YAAP had been actively scouting strategic acquisitions in the digital content and media landscape. Crayons Communications adds key markets to YAAP’s existing footprint across three countries and seven cities.
“I’m super excited to be part of the YAAP group now. The added network of seven cities and 100+ digital experts at YAAP opens up a whole new world of opportunity for us in this region. This merger will bring the much-needed impetus to aggressively up our hirings and drive our go-to-market strategies with new offerings. We have been known for punching above our weight in the past, with mega projects such as the Chris Hemsworth film for Bayut, the Dubai Super Sixes Property, the Bayut: Your Home, Your Choice awards, etc. Now our ambitions and goals will be much bigger,” added Arshad Zaheer, CEO of Crayons Communications.
Commenting on how the deal transpired, Kunal Lalani, Founder & Chairman of Crayons Communications Group, said that his company has, in the past, partnered with YAAP for many projects in India and Southeast Asia. “This merger formally seals our relationship in this part of the world, where I look forward to the next phase of growth and expansion for Crayons Communications. I’m confident that, with YAAP coming in, it will create more opportunities for our people, in terms of their own career growth. All our clients will benefit from a wide array of new services that will be launched here. I wish the entire team all the best at the start of an exciting new phase.”