KSA based Marhaba Blockchain Information Systems (MRHB) a blockchain web3 Infrastructure, has partnered with Saudi Arabia’s Digital Economy Centre (DEC)  an institution driving the digital transformation of Saudi Arabia’s economy in alignment with Vision 2030.

The collaboration focuses on Blockchain, Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) and Artificial Intelligence (AI), initiatives.

MRHB, Founder Naquib Mohammed noted “This collaboration has created several opportunities focused on leveraging Blockchain solutions for public sector entities within the kingdom. DEC CEO Dr. Hasan Al Ameer added “This partnership will bring MRHB’s pioneering products and services to Saudi companies looking to explore blockchain & AI technologies. The unique shariah compliance of their platform is also particularly suited to the Kingdom.”

Both MRHB and DEC are dedicated to identifying and pursuing potential projects that resonate with Vision 2030’s objectives, bringing innovative solutions to the forefront in Saudi Arabia.

MRHB has also recently partnerd with Limar Technologies to localize MRHB’s Souq NFT platform for KSA and GCC markets

RAK DAO (Ras Al Khaimah Digital Assets Oasis) the world’s first and only common law free zone exclusively dedicated to digital and virtual asset companies, has partnered with BlockLogica, a Web3 digital assets strategy hub to usher in Web3 Blockchain innovation.

“We are thrilled to welcome Blocklogica Labs into the RAK DAO ecosystem. This partnership signifies our commitment to fostering innovation and providing unparalleled support to visionary enterprises within the blockchain space. Together, we will drive forward our mission of shaping a new era of digital transformation and empowerment in the Web3 landscape,” said Dr. Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK DAO.

Asal Alizade, Co-Founder of BlockLogica Labs added, “Looking at the great potential for the Web3 industry in the UAE, we are excited to stand next to RAK DAO and create a supportive and regulated environment for cutting-edge projects in the Web3 and Blockchain area to grow properly. It’s impressive to see how RAK DAO is so innovative in changing the Digital Assets regulatory space and creating a healthy ecosystem, where all ideas and projects have an opportunity to grow perfectly and be seen, and we are happy to take part in building this ecosystem.”

Together, RAK DAO and Blocklogica Labs aim to advance joint efforts in shaping a new, open, decentralized, and trustless digital era. By amplifying opportunities for businesses and startups in the ever-evolving blockchain space, this partnership sets the stage for groundbreaking developments in the Web3 landscape.

Just last week, Conflux Blockchain, a Layer 1 Blockchain,entered the UAE and partnered with UAE’s RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAKDAO) to develop the Blockchain and digital asset sector.

In a meeting of the UAE Council for Digital Economy attended by Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work divulged that nine UAE banks, six UAE exchange houses and three UAE insurance companies have in the past few months started using Blockchain based solutions.

Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications, affirmed that the UAE government adopts a proactive approach based on designing visions and goals, as well as developing and implementing initiatives and projects that lay the foundations of a pioneering digital economy. This economy combines national skills and technological solutions, forming an advanced model that contributes to achieving the targets of the national strategy for the digital economy, by multiplying the contribution of the digital economy to non-oil GDP over the next decade.

He stated that the UAE government is intensifying efforts to accelerate the adoption of digital solutions, aiming through its initiatives and projects to envision and shape the digital future, enhancing the UAE’s leadership and global competitiveness in various fields.

The council reviewed the updates regarding several strategic initiatives aimed at supporting and accelerating the implementation of the UAE’s strategic objectives for the digital economy, in areas such as infrastructure, digital transactions, e-commerce, financial technologies, stimulating investment in digital sectors, attracting and developing digital skills, supporting SMEs and the latest developments in digital economy statistics gathering and the annual report on measuring the digital economy, prepared in cooperation with the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre.

The council reviewed as well the developments in digital infrastructure development in the country, and the level of adoption of technological solutions, which have significantly increased in recent months. The adoption of the use of digital signatures increased by 216 percent in 2023, while blockchain was used as well, involving 9 banks, 6 exchange houses, and 3 insurance companies.

In addition, the adoption rate of the sixth version of the Internet Protocol reached 50.7 percent in January 2024, and the level of mobile network coverage continued to achieve 100 percent coverage, ranking the first position in the Middle East in Internet exchange traffic and the first position globally in fifth-generation network speeds in 2023.

GameCentric a new Web3 enabled MENA gaming platform which seeks to incorporate crypto and digital assets, has raised $1.5 Million in capital from UAE Angel Investor, Bilal Merchant. The platform is currently live.

This strategic capital injection, positions GameCentric to enhance its platform features to extend its footprint beyond the GCC & MENA region.

Founded by entrepreneur Saad Khan, a veteran in the gaming industry with a shared passion to transform the industry, GameCentric embarked on its journey in 2023.

Saad Khan, CEO of GameCentric, stated, “Crafting a robust vision for our platform, supported by a sound business model and a seasoned management team, resonated with the angel investor, like Bilal Merchant who recognized the immense potential within GameCentric, which drove his decision to invest. Our aspiration is not just to be a gaming platform but a cultural phenomenon transcending borders. Collaboration with industry leaders, community-driven programs and an unwavering commitment to have the best user experience drives all of our future initiatives.”

In line with its vision, GameCentric is set to integrate cutting-edge technologies to remain competitive but also create new compelling propositions for brands, game publishers and gamers. In the coming years, GameCentric will transition to be a web3 digitally native platform & bring in digital assets play including cryptocurrencies by 2025. These milestones represent GameCentric’s commitment to forging a unique identity in the gaming industry, providing consumers with distinct and unparalleled experiences.

As part of its launch strategy and to deliver an exceptional gaming experience, GameCentric has partnered with POWReSports, renowned for its role in brand activations and influencer management campaigns in KSA to give a boost to its gamer acquisition strategy. This collaboration will help solidify the expansion of GameCentrics’ ecosystem offering across the regional gaming landscape.

Bilal Merchant, an experienced businessman/investor with a demonstrated history of working in the oil and energy industry, stated “GameCentric’s visionary strategy in seamlessly connecting brands with gamers, coupled with their unwavering commitment to integrating cutting-edge technologies such as crypto and Web3, has left an indelible impression on me. Their innovative approach positions them as disruptors in the gaming landscape, poised to create a distinctive and rewarding experience for players worldwide.”

GameCentric has garnered support from industry heavyweights such as LIV, UAE’s first & largest digital bank powered by Emirates NBD. As part of their new brand identity aimed at targeting Generation Now, LIV has recognized the platform’s potential to deliver on their banking & financial education objectives through the art of gaming.

The announcement comes just two days after Exverse, a UAE Web3 blockchain gaming project, incubated by launchpads that include KuCoin Labs, Seedify, Epic Games, and ChainGPT, raised $3 million in a private round led by Cogitent Ventures, Cointelligence, and Moonrock Capital.

Investments in Web3 gaming platforms in the MENA region has seen exponential growth over the past two years.

Navin Gupta, former Managing Director for South Asia and MENA at Ripple has left Ripple to join Crystal, a blockchain intelligence firm focused on compliance and risk monitoring for cryptocurrencies, Gupta will become the new CEO of Crystal while Marina Khaustova moves into the new position of Chief Operations Officer at Crystal.

Crystal is a blockchain intelligence firm empowering financial institutions, law enforcement and regulators with real-time blockchain analysis, investigative and compliance solutions.

Gupta joins Crystal from Ripple, where he successfully drove growth for the firm in the MEA and South Asian markets. His roles at HSBC and CitiBank, and entrepreneurial experience as co-founder of a commercial transport technology platform, makes Gupta the perfect candidate to steer this next phase of expansion for Crystal. Ripple has grown over the past years in MENA region with 20% of its customers coming from MENA.

With crypto assets becoming increasingly mainstream due to key regulatory and market developments, Crystal appointed Gupta to expand its blockchain intelligence solutions to a global audience of regulators, VASPs, TradFi sectors, and stakeholders in cryptocurrencies.

“Recent developments like the Bitcoin ETF approval have set the stage both for an increased appetite for digital assets and for compliance tools to keep pace with regulatory expectations,” said Brian Brooks, Bitfury Board member and former head of the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency. “It is imperative that regulators and financial institutions worldwide equip themselves with the best toolset and intelligence to keep pace and be fully prepared to tackle any potential risks from this asset class.”

Gupta said, “Marina and Crystal has been at the forefront of developing an exceptional blockchain intelligence solution. As we continue to see adoption grow, we are committed to leveraging new-age tech to stay ahead of the curve. Regulators need superior intelligence and cutting-edge tools to navigate these changes, and TradFi institutions are seeking to manage risks effectively as they enter the digital assets market. Our goal is to stay insanely customer-centric, bringing our solutions to every corner of the world.”

Since 2019, Crystal has expanded its presence into key financial hubs including North America, UK, Europe and MEA, empowering financial institutions, investigators, and regulators with blockchain analysis, compliance and risk monitoring solutions. Crystal’s customer base doubled in 2023 by focusing on delivering its unique solution to enforcement and supervisory bodies. The product offers real-time indirect risk assessment, monitoring over 50,000 entities and organizations and offers proprietary training programs for professional cybercrime investigators.

Oman’s Ministry of Housing and Urban Planning ( MoHUP) has announced its roadmap for 2024 which will encompass 130 initiatives of which blockchain technology will play a part.  The Oman Ministry of Housing intends to launch a unified portal with one of its main components being blockchain.

The plan hinges on four key pillars: empowering people, embracing a digital leap, strengthening foundations, and building together. These guiding principles will translate into tangible actions, such as capacity-building programs, streamlined processes through technology, clear regulations, and enhanced public engagement.

Urban planning takes center stage, with initiatives like the implementation of the Greater Muscat City structural plan and the development of comprehensive plans for major centers like Greater Sohar and Salalah. Future cities like Sultan Haitham City and Al Jabal Al Akhdar will see significant progress, while the development of Khasab will gain momentum.

As part of its commitment to ensuring “Housing for All”, the Ministry has outlined a number of programs. The Mandaa Project will provide safe havens in Jabal Shams, while mountain villages will receive 84 new residential units. The Kamzar Housing Project and initiatives in the Al-Halaniyyat Islands address specific needs, and relocation and renewal efforts will bring modern housing to Soqara residents and revitalize Wadi Bani Khalid and Qurayyat.

Beyond these specific initiatives, the plan outlines ambitious goals like distributing 1,000 government residential plots, establishing 1,200 housing units within the housing assistance program, and securing RO 1.9 billion for housing loans with the Oman Housing Bank. The completion of 1,051 housing units in Al-Naseem and the offering of 5,300 units through the Sorouh Program further demonstrate the Ministry’s commitment to tangible outcomes.

All this will include a digital transformation journey with the digitization of all Ministry services and the launch of a unified portal leveraging blockchain technology. Key legislation related to urban planning, real estate, and housing will solidify the legal framework for sustainable development.

Previously, the digital revolution permeated the Ministry’s operations, with 56 services automated on platforms like Tatweer and Amlak. This shift not only streamlined processes but also empowered citizens with convenient online access.

In January 2024, The Oman Development Bank announced as well that it would be digitizing its operations utilizing low code blockchain enabled solutions from NewGen Software. Newgen Software, a global provider of low code digital transformation platform will streamline Oman Development Bank’s banking processes.

In addition, the Ministry of Transport Communications and Information Technology announced earlier in February that it would be piloting Blockchain Land transport eWay Bill.

Even ESCWA in February organized a training workshop in Oman on blockchain technology for trade facilitation. The workshop is part of a project to build the capacities of member countries to use the blockchain technology to enhance trade facilitation and competitiveness.  Participants included Omani officials from various agencies including the Ministry of Transport and Information Technology, Ministry of Trade, Customs authorities and Oman Logistics Center.

In the midst of Saudi Arabia, in Jeddah to be exact, a city is emerging, a smart city that is built on Blockchain. The city is called Mayasem

Mayasem is a smart city construction project in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia that covers 1.6 million square meters strategically located in Obhur, the thriving new heart of north Jeddah.

Saudi based Shamayel United Development Company; a Jeddah based real estate developer founded in 2010, is the master developer of a 1.6 million sqm plot in the district of Obhur north of the city of Jeddah. The development is an integrated sustainable mixed-use community.

The site of the smart city built on Blockchain, lies adjacent to the development of the Kingdom Tower poised to be the world’s tallest skyscraper.

In Mayasem city, Blockchain technology is not just a concept but the core foundation. It is not just the physical features of the city that are future looking and innovatively designed but as per the developers it is integrated into the blockchain.

The technology in Mayasem is providing an improved standard of living and a new level of data control.

As per the Youtube video on Mayasem, “Every brick, every tree, every drop of water is part of a larger interconnected network. It is not just a city it’s a smart City. It uses data to change the way cities are run and that’s why it is the city of the future but what makes Maysem unique is the blockchain.”

According to the developers, the blockchain technology is the lifeblood of this city, it keeps the heart of the city pumping.

The developers state that the entire construction project has DLT technolog woven into its very fabric. It manages the data from the high end apartments to the shopping malls, luxury parks, up to the lagoons.

The technology is giving the people of the city control over their data and in turn a better standard of living. It is reinventing the way cities are run by offering empowerment, transparency ad progress.

Recently, more and more blockchain projects are being built in Saudi Arabia. For example, blockchain enabled Crysp Farms, a UAE based innovator and operator of decentralized blockchain enabled vertical farms, has secured a $2.25 million ‘Pre-Series A’ round structured and led by Gate Capital with participation from regional investors, including those from the UAE and Saudi Arabia, and is planning to launch in KSA.

While most recently, the Hashgraph Association and the Saudi Ministry of Investment signed a partnership to launch a $250 million Deep tech studio for emerging technologies.

Exverse, a UAE Web3 blockchain gaming project, incubated by launchpads that include KuCoin Labs, Seedify, Epic Games, and ChainGPT, has raised $3 million in a private round led by Cogitent Ventures, Cointelligence, and Moonrock Capital.

It also had additional support from industry leaders such as KuCoin Labs, Epic Games, Seedify, and ChainGPT. The funding will power preparations for the game’s testnet and token launch, forge additional strategic partnerships, and expand its marketing efforts in the APAC region.

Before closing its private seed round, Exverse forged strategic partnerships with a wide range of entities to ensure the startup has a full arsenal of tools to develop the strongest possible game, alongside a robust business model and marketing strategy. Seedify and KuCoin Labs provided guidance and mentorship via their incubation programs—with ChainGPT preparing Exverse for its upcoming launch —and Maven Capital advising the startup on its go-to-market strategy.

Spanning three planets, the Exverse ecosystem offers gamers an immersive experience and advanced gameplay by focusing heavily on competitive and intuitive mechanics, a fluid physics engine, and dynamic visuals. Exverse’s three planets—Social, Quest, and Battle—cater to different playing styles while remaining interconnected within a single timeline, where users compete in cycles known as seasons, lasting eight weeks.

The blockchain game is designed to foster community by allowing players to engage in social events and even develop user-generated worlds within an ever-expanding universe.

Built using Epic’s Unreal Engine 5, Exverse utilizes blockchain technology to strike the balance between enjoyable, realistic, and immersive real-time gameplay. The game prioritizes skill over pay-2-win mechanics, enabling players to earn rewards by staking tokens before a season’s kickoff, with top performers receiving a share of profits from in-game NFTs such as cosmetics and skins.

Ahead of its upcoming alpha launch with a 5,000-player tournament set for March, Exverse has already surpassed 65,000 verified signups. The deathmatch-style tournament occurring on the game’s Battle Planet precedes Exverse’s token launch and gives early wait listers an exclusive chance to test their skills.

“We see ourselves as pioneers in the gaming industry because we’ve built an AAA-quality, classic first-person shooter with Web3 elements,” says Fei Ooi Hoong, CEO of Exverse. “Our hybrid approach is the result of our understanding that for NFT or blockchain games to succeed post-bull market, they need to appeal to gamers in the same way as beloved titles like ‘Call of Duty,’ ‘Halo,’ and ‘Counter-Strike’ have. We decided to focus our efforts first on developing a fun and visually captivating game, and only then strategically working in the token mechanics in a way that rewards skill—all before conducting an IDO.”

“We are excited to be invested in such a promising gaming project like that of Exverse, who gracefully blends the best of Web2 with Web3,” says Sayantan Mitra, partner at Cogitent Ventures. “They boast a strong and visionary leadership along with a talented group of developers, and we are excited to see their project advance over the next several months.”

“It’s been a great pleasure working closely with the Exverse team during their incubation period with us,” says Esport Manager at Seedify. “They had a great vision, talented leadership, and an impressive team of developers that allowed them to get the most out of our incubator. Seedify continues working closely with Exverse to prepare the team for their testnet launch as well as providing a wide array of support, guidance, and infrastructure.”

IFTA (The International Trade and Forfaiting Association) and XDC Blockchain network will be holding a fintech workshop entitled “Use of Digital assets across Trade Origination and Distribution. The event will be held in Dubai UAE on February 22nd at Emirates Financial Towers.

As per the X feed, the workshop is tailored to IFT members, banks, credit insurers, fintech companies and law firms as well as policy makers, corporates, alternative lenders, family offices, asset managers, and logistics operators.

The topics covered will include MLETR policy developments, digital negotiable instruments, and real-time loan transactions and how tokenization and digital assets are revolutionizing the trade finance and lending practices.

Trade Finance has picked up interest not only from the UAE government but also the banking sector. In September 2023, UAE based Emirates NBD invested in Blockchain enabled Komgo, trade finance platform. As per the press release, the strategic equity investment was made by Emirates NBD’s Innovation Fund, the Bank’s corporate venture fund.  The fund created in early 2023, aims to strengthen synergies from strategic partnerships by combining the Bank’s digital ambitions and regional expertise with the agility and technological innovations of fintech companies.

In addition, Blockchain trade finance platform for banks in the UAE, UAE Trade Connect, an e&enterprise company has announced that it has surpassed $27 million in transactions identifying interbank duplicate financing and preventing fraud attempts.

In December 2023, UAE based InvoiceMate, a blockchain enabled invoice financing platform, tokenized a real world asset, an invoice, using the XDC blockchain in its recent pilot. The project used TradeFinex’S open source smart contract standards.

Earlier this year, Dubai’s virtual asset regulator (VARA) announced its plans for 2024 which will include enhancements to its regulatory infrastructure with introduction of real world use cases for tokenized fractionalized market participation using Blockchain as well as TradeFi, DeFi regulations while it has phased out its MVP licensing program

Finally and most importantly the UAE government is supporting tradeFi and the utilization of digital assets. At Davos in January, the UAE government signed an MOU with WEF (World Economic Forum) to support UAE’s new Blockchain and AI enabled Trade Tech initiative. The initiative is designed to accelerate the digitization of international supply chains, enhance customs procedures, and improve developing countries’ access to the global trading system and, as a result, spur a new era of trade growth.

So it seems that this workshop and definitely others to come, are opportune for learning more about the connections between Trade sector and digital assets.

In an announcement on LinkedIn, both UAE Ghaf Labs, a blockchain consultancy and incubator firm focused on cultivating and fostering dynamic startups in the blockchain domain, and DRIFE Blockchain Taxi 3.0 platform has partnered to grow the ride haling landscape in the MENA region.

Ghaf Labs sister company is Ghaf Capital a private investment company also based in the UAE.

Firdosh Sheikh, Founder of DRIFE states, “We are excited to announce our partnership with Ghaf Labs. With such a strong advisory team on board from GHAF, we’re ready to navigate the ride-hailing landscape in MENA. Stay tuned for the journey ahead with DRIFE!

Ghaf Labs also stated that they are proud to highlight DRIFE one of their advisory projects. According to Ghaf Labs, DRIFE is set to revolutionize Dubai’s taxi service. Ghaf Labs notes, “Utilizing blockchain technology and an auction-based pricing model, DRIFE ensures fare transparency and a zero-commission policy, offering riders competitive fare options directly from drivers.”

With a new trade license secured through collaboration with AASA Passenger Mobility Services, DRIFE is launching with 1,000 cabs, introducing a new era of decentralized ride-hailing, dubbed Taxi 3.0.

Ghaf Labs is supporting DRIFE’s mission to transform urban mobility in Dubai.