Cristiano Ronaldo has released his fourth NFT ( Non Fungible token) collection under the theme Road to Saudi Arabia. The NFT collection is in partnership with Binance. The exclusive NFT collection will be available only on the Binance NFT Marketplace.

As per Binance blog the campaign will run betwee May 29th and July 15th 2024, with the sales period ending on June 18th 2024.

The collection showcases seven unique NFTs, each representing a significant location in Cristiano Ronaldo’s decorated career — Madeira, Lisbon, Manchester, Madrid, Turin, Saudi Arabia and Portugal. Collectors can collect and earn utilities and rewards based on the number of unique NFTs they own from the collection.

The Road to Saudi Arabia” collection is as follows:

Madeira (2,800 Normal NFTs), Lisbon (2,300 Normal NFTs), & Manchester (1,700 Normal NFTs)

2024-06-06 14:00 (UTC) – 2024-06-18 23:59:59 (UTC)

Madrid (1,200 Normal NFTs), Turin (800 Normal NFTs), & Saudi Arabia (700 Normal NFTs)

2024-06-14 14:00 (UTC) – 2024-06-18 23:59:59 (UTC)

Portugal (7 Super Super Rare NFTs)

Note that while the number of Normal NFTs for each location differs, the price will be the same: 35 USDT (35 USD).

A total of four different rarity levels are available — Super Super Rare (SSR), Super Rare (SR), Rare (R), and Normal (N), and each rarity level will come with its own utility and benefits for NFT holders, as per the table below.

UAE based Phoenix Group, an ADX-listed crypto firm has bought 12.5% stake in UAE based Rekt Studios, a Web3 gaming firm that utilizes NFTs. The purchase agreement was approved by Phoenix board in a $2.5 million transaction. The acquisition will be executed through Phoenix’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Phoenix INV Holdings.

Cypher Capital also invested $1.5 million in Web3 Rekt Studios back in December of 2022. There is notably a close affiliation between the founders of Cypher Capital and Phoenix Group.

In February 2024, UAE Phoenix Group, acquired valued at more than half a million dollars ($577,074) in one of its related parties, Phoenix Technology Solutions B.V. based out of the Netherlands.

In addition Phoenix group spent over $500 million in BTC Mining machines.

The crypto conglomerate additionally snagged a 25% stake in UAE-based content monetization platform Lyvely in December 2023, after debuting on the ADX at the start of the month to a strong investor appetite, which saw shares soaring 35% on the first day of trading.

Phoenix Group has also invested in M2 the latest crypto exchange to receive a license in UAE from ADGM.

About Phoenix: The company owns 23 businesses and nine crypto mining facilities in the US, Canada, CIS, and the UAE, with a USD 2 bn crypto mining farm in the UAE, one of the largest in the Middle East.

Arts DAO Festival, a Web3 cultural event in the MENA region, is returning to the UAE on April 20-21, 2024. The Agenda will host this event, standing as a hub for digital art enthusiasts and internet culture aficionados alike. Attendees are promised an immersive and unforgettable journey, highlighting the boundless creativity and innovation that define the digital art domain.

This year’s edition of Arts DAO Fest will offer experiences designed to engage, inspire, and enlighten. From awe-inspiring digital art exhibitions to interactive workshops, a gaming zone, and a party-like festival, the event provides a unique platform where culture intersects with technology, fostering a space where creativity and innovation can flourish.

Arts DAO Fest also unveiled their initial speaker lineup – an assembly of visionaries and pioneers from various sectors, including NFTs, gaming, investment, and technology. Each speaker brings a wealth of knowledge and insights, promising to shine a light on the diverse aspects of the Web3 ecosystem.

Each Arts DAO Fest 2024 Zone is meticulously curated to offer a complete exploration of digital culture, allowing attendees to dive deep into art, technology, gaming, music, and investments.

The Creator Zone is an interactive wonderland featuring an array of NFTs and captivating installations. Attendees can explore the forefront of digital creativity, offering a tangible connection to the collections that define our era.

The Talk is designed for both newcomers and seasoned digital specialists. It offers insightful discussions led by some of the world’s foremost leaders in the field. Participants will have the chance to engage in dialogues that deepen their knowledge and expand their perspectives on the digital future. 

“The heart of Arts DAO Fest lies in the exchange of ideas and the spark of innovation. We have designed a gathering where the brightest minds in digital culture come together to share insights and connect on a different level,” underscored Danosch Zahedi, Co-Founder and CEO at Arts DAO Fest. “Whether you’re just beginning your journey or you’re a seasoned expert, there’s something here to expand everyone’s horizon.”

The Gamer Zone presents a next-generation gaming experience. Here, attendees will find themselves in a gaming adventure, where the virtual worlds they explore are as boundless as their imaginations. This zone is designed to elevate the gaming journey of competitive players and casual enthusiasts alike.

The Beat is where electrifying DJs and live performers set the stage for an unparalleled auditory journey. This vibrant space is the heart of the festival’s lively spirit, inviting attendees to lose themselves in music and dance, creating memories that will last a lifetime.

Speakers’ Roster

ArtsDAO is honored to present the opening lineup for the 2024 event:

Zeneca, Web3 Thought Leader & Founder of Zenacademy, is renowned for his deep insights into the Web3 ecosystem. His commitment to education and onboarding new users into Web3 has made him a must-follow for anyone venturing into the Web3 space.

Punk6529, Web3 Thought Leader, is celebrated for his visionary perspectives on the digital future. With an influential voice in the NFT space, his contributions continue to shape the evolving landscape of digital ownership and art. 

Tristan Yver, Co-Founder of Backpack and MadLads,  has reinvigorated the Solana ecosystem, breathing new life into the digital landscape and showcasing exceptional talent for sparking innovation and rallying community engagement with vibrant enthusiasm.

Poopie, Co-Founder at Doodles, stands at the creative forefront of the NFT revolution. His work with Doodles has not only popularized digital collectibles but also fostered a vibrant community around blockchain-based art. 

Clement Chia, Co-Founder of Imaginary Ones, merges creativity with technology, innovating at the dynamic intersection of entertainment and NFTs. His vision brings digital art and collectibles to life, engaging communities in unprecedented ways.

Farokh, Co-Founder and President of DASTAN, home of RugRadio and DecryptMedia, has launched platforms that are not just sources of news and entertainment but also critical educational resources for the Web3 community. His transparency and consistency over the years have made him a cornerstone for those looking to navigate Web3 fully.

Wale.Swoosh, Web3 Thought Leader, is known for his strategic insights into the blockchain industry. His expertise and forward-thinking have made significant impacts on the adoption and understanding of Web3 technologies.

Minh Do, COO at Animoca Brands, plays a pivotal role in driving innovation within the blockchain gaming sector. His efforts have been instrumental in establishing Animoca Brands as a leader in the immersive Web3 gaming experiences.

Eowyn Chen, CEO Trust Wallet, is at the forefront of making cryptocurrency accessible and secure for users worldwide. Her leadership is critical in Trust Wallet’s mission to provide a safer, more user-friendly platform for managing digital assets.

Sergej Kunz, Co-Founder of 1INCH Network, has been a transformative force in decentralized finance (DeFi). His work with 1INCH Network is revolutionizing how users interact with DeFi services, prioritizing efficiency and security in digital transactions.

“Our speakers are at the vanguard of Web3, each bringing a unique perspective. We’re proud to host such a diverse array of visionaries who are not just shaping the future of digital culture but are also eager to share their journey and insights with our attendees,” highlighted Danosch Zahedi, Co-Founder and CEO at Arts DAO.

As the largest Web3 cultural gathering in the MENA region, Arts DAO Fest invites artists, creators, investors, and enthusiasts from around the globe to join in celebration of digital art’s vibrant future. This event not only highlights the incredible talent and potential within the digital art world but also serves as a pivotal moment for the Web3 community, fostering connections and collaborations that will shape the trajectory of digital culture.

South Korean Nexon gaming enters the UAE with its latest game MapleStory using blockchain. Nexon is working on a game that will bring together their classic games with Blockchain under the name MapleStory. Nexon has launched in the UAE under two subsidiaries Nexon Universe Global and Nexpace.

Nexon chose UAE because it is a hotspot for cutting edge technology. MapleStory will include NFTs,

This strategic move aims to fortify Nexon’s foothold in the burgeoning blockchain gaming sector within its target market, the Middle East, according to industry insiders.

Nexpace, a blockchain gaming venture introduced by Nexon in the previous year, is poised to play a pivotal role in the company’s expansion endeavors. At the core of Nexpace lies MapleStory N, a project that integrates Nexon’s well-known intellectual property, MapleStory, with Non-Fungible Token (NFT) technology.

In line with its expansion strategy, Nexon Korea Corp. is gearing up to unveil MapleStory N in select markets later this year. This anticipated launch signifies a significant stride towards broadening Nexon’s portfolio in the realm of blockchain gaming.

The move to establish subsidiaries in the UAE underscores Nexon’s commitment to harnessing the potential of blockchain technology within the gaming landscape. By extending its presence into the UAE, Nexon Korea Corp. aims to leverage the region’s conducive environment for technological innovation and entrepreneurial growth. This expansion not only signifies Nexon’s ambition to tap into new markets but also reflects its dedication to fostering a dynamic gaming ecosystem on a global scale.

Nexon plans to launch MapleStory N in select countries this year, marking a significant step in its strategy to broaden its blockchain gaming portfolio.

Animoca brands, which offers digital property rights for games and open metaverse, continues to invest in gaming and Web3 start-ups in the MENA region. Its latest investment is with UAE based Param Labs, a blockchain enabled gaming infrastructure provider.

UAE vintage pop culture group, AGSpeedy announced a joint venture with Speedy Comics called AGSpeedy Technologies which will use AI and Blockchain to authenticate memorabilia and verify them immutably.

The joint venture, AGSpeedy Technologies will utilize the Sui layer 1 blockchain and smart contract platform.

AGSpeedy Technologies is the brainchild of AGS, an AI-based card grading system that provides authentication and grading services for physical collectibles, from sports trading cards to trading card games like Pokemon and Magic The Gathering, and Speedy Comics ME, the Middle East’s leading destination for vintage comics and collectibles.

Parent company AGS is responsible for grading nearly one hundred thousand cards in 2023, while its AI database covers millions more.

Collectibles have always had a tight grasp on the imagination of consumers – from stamps to the trading card games of the 90s and beyond, consumers love to collect, trade, and own.

 AGSpeedy’s system scans physical collectibles and uses its AI engine to verify and grade the item, generating an authenticity certificate which includes the item’s grade and uploads it to Sui. The certificate serves as an immutable digital twin of the collectible item, which is tradable or sellable, and any change in ownership will be recorded.

Using Sui’s native feature zkLogin, any user can create an account on Sui with credentials from Google, Slack, Twitch and more, abstracting away from the need for private key management. 

“One of the biggest roadblocks to digital collectibles has been onboarding users to web3,” said Alex Aleksandrovski, co-founder of AGSpeedy Technologies. “The process is difficult and confusing to the average person. Because it is so easy to create a web3 wallet using a web2 login on Sui, Sui is finally presenting the solution. AGSpeedy’s goal is to allow collectors to digitize their physical cards and collectibles and we are confident that Sui is the best partner to make that happen.”

“Through this collaboration, AGSpeedy is set to transform the collectibles industry by enhancing market confidence and liquidity,” said Rashed Mohammed Zubair Al Farooq, CEO of Speedy Comics Group and CEO of Pop Con ME. “Recording grading on Sui provides a tamper-proof, immutable record of an item’s quality and condition, increasing trust among buyers and sellers. This heightened confidence is expected to boost market activity, making it easier for collectors to trade and liquidate assets with peace of mind in a trusted and safe secondary marketplace. This technology is completely unique to this region, and this is just the beginning.”

“Collectible authentication is the perfect use case for blockchain technology,” said Evan Cheng, CEO of Mysten Labs and Original Contributor to Sui. “The combination of AI-powered grading and blockchain-based verification for collectors in the MENA region has the potential to reduce fraud while also introducing fans around the world to web3-powered technology, which is what we set out to accomplish with Sui – creating real world solutions for real world problems.”

UAE based Aurus, pioneers in the tokenization of precious metals, and Authic Labs, a leader in Web3 customer loyalty solutions, have partnered to utilize blockchain technology for precious metals including gold with the first Gold backed NFTs.

This partnership opens new avenues for Real World Assets (RWAs) in the realm of digital collectibles (NFTs).

This partnership seeks to harness each company’s strengths, with several initiatives already underway, including gold-backed NFTs and blockchain-powered loyalty programs. The initiative aims to offer brands the opportunity to engage their audiences with digital collectibles, backed by the real-world value of physical gold. These NFTs, redeemable both digitally and physically, introduce groundbreaking possibilities for traditional companies that have been hesitant to launch their own collections.

By linking NFTs to gold, brands can set a stable price floor for their collectibles. This approach not only protects their brand and community from potential market downturns but also introduces new dimensions of utility.

Authic Labs is implementing tGOLD as a tool for loyalty rewards on their platform. Aurus will be integrating the Authic Labs interactive DApp on its platform, enabling users to engage in a variety of functionalities. These include minting and burning tGOLD tokens into NFTs, participating in staking, governance and DeFi, among other features.

Improving the practical uses of tokenized precious metals during our combined efforts will greatly benefit AurusX (AX), the Aurus ecosystem token. AurusX tokens can be staked to claim monthly rewards in tGOLD, tSILVER, and tPLATINUM, as well as vote on ecosystem proposals. These rewards are generated from the various transactions that occur within the Aurus ecosystem, including NFT mintings. AurusX is traded on several venues.

Wouter Kloosterman, CEO of Authic Labs, expressed enthusiasm, “Our partnership with Aurus marks a new era where Web3 technology and real-world precious metals intersect. Integrating cutting-edge technology with traditional assets sets a new standard for value and utility in the digital collectables space.”

Mark Gesterkamp, CCO of Aurus, added, “We are very excited about our collaboration with Authic Labs, which promises to bolster our presence in the NFT space. Our conviction is that brand engagements will onboard the next mass wave of users to crypto. Adding the value of gold to digital collectibles will redefine its utility and improve overall user experiences.”

Metaverse gaming platform Sandbox and its Saudi partner SandSoft, has partnered with KSA’s first regulated NFT platform Nuqtah to grow decentralized gaming in KSA and MENA.

As per the press release, the partnership will support the emergence of a world-class Web3 gaming ecosystem in Saudi Arabia. The partnership with Nuqtah will focus on creating exciting experiences that align with the unique tastes and preferences of Saudi Arabian gamers.

To kickstart this initiative, Nuqtah will launch a Design Contest using VoxEdit, the 3D editor of The Sandbox, for local creators in the region in early 2024. Winning creations will be featured on Nuqtah’s NFT marketplace. The Sandbox, Sandsoft and Nuqtah will also work jointly to enable creators to build experiences in The Sandbox metaverse that are specifically tailored to the Saudi Arabian region, while Nuqtah will list land and avatars from The Sandbox on its NFT marketplace.

Sebastien Borget, the COO and Co-founder of The Sandbox, commented, “We’re pursuing our journey of innovation and growth in the Saudi region following our recent partnership announcement with Sandsoft. Together with pioneers such as Nuqtah, we’ll collaborate to attract more local creators from Saudi Arabia into our user-generated content platform and enable them to monetize their digital assets creations on Nuqtah’s platform.”

Salwa Radwi, the CEO of Nuqtah, added, “The partnership between The Sandbox, Sandsoft and Nuqtah is an exciting development for the decentralized gaming community. By collaboratively building local experiences, focusing on education, and attracting regional audiences, our aim is to create a vibrant and inclusive ecosystem that empowers creators and gamers. Launching a Design Contest with VoxEdit is a joint effort to empower the Saudi creators community in the metaverse.”

David Fernandez, the CEO of Sandsoft, explained “At Sandsoft, our commitment has always been to uplift local talent, drive education, and responsibly promote emerging technologies. This partnership will spotlight emerging regional talent and create immersive local content for The Sandbox metaverse that inspires a new generation of creators. It’s a significant milestone in building a boundary-breaking metaverse community in the MENA region.”

The Sandbox, Sandsoft, and Nuqtah have committed to empowering creators, fostering inclusivity in the blockchain ecosystem, and driving educational initiatives for a passionate metaverse community. This marks the beginning of a strategic partnership paving the way for a joint venture to expand The Sandbox ecosystem across KSA, GCC, and MENA, shaping the future of decentralized gaming in Saudi Arabia.

BackPack Web3 non custodial XNFT wallet has received a full license by Dubai Virtual asset regulatory authority allowing it to run a regulated crypto exchange in UAE. BackPack,which was considered one of top 30 best crypto wallets in 2023 was developed by Coral. It offers XNFTs built on Solana Blockchain.

Backpack Exchange is set to launch in private beta for its community members in November before going live to the public in Q1 2024. UAE based Trek Labs Ltd FZE, will launch under the name Backpack Exchange. This license only covers Backpack Exchange and not any of the other virtual asset products and services offered by Backpack.

xNFTs are a different type of non-fungible token, that combine use cases of NFTs and applications in one asset. xNFT stands for executable non-fungible token, meaning it is a unique digital item that can run code inside it.

The XNFT is new, programmable non-fungible token (NFT) standard that act as Web3 applications, built on Solana by the developers at Coral which is part of The WAO Company. xNFTs allowing users to interact with their NFTs and use them for more than just collectibles on the blockchain. Their unique feature is to enable applications to run natively inside the NFT. For example, an xNFT lets users play a game, listen to music, or access a DeFi protocol, all within one open, programmable system built for Web3. You can also have a xNFT that updates itself based on external data or events.

The combination of Backpack Exchange and Backpack Wallet (which is currently an unregulated product) is designed to provide the smoothest transition for users from fiat to on-chain applications. While Backpack Wallet users already have access to a variety of dApps and executable NFTs (xNFTs) unique to Backpack, they will now be able to conduct trades on the exchange directly in the app.

Coral is also the company behind Mad Lads which is the Number 1 NFT collection on Solana. Backpack’s CEO and founder, Armani Ferrante, managed to navigate the challenges posed by the collapse of FTX, after which Coral lost approximately $14.5 million of FTX’s investment in a $20 million funding round backed by FTX Ventures.

Over the past five months, Backpack Exchange has developed a next-generation exchange that incorporates a novel zero-knowledge proof of reserves (zk-proofs), Multi-Party Computation (MPC) for custody, and low latency order execution, while also securing licenses in several jurisdictions worldwide and establishing premium fiat on and off ramps for users.

A VARA Spokesperson noted, “Dubai’s VA sector is fully regulated and VARA’s founding principles have been anchored on the need to structure guardrails for market security while remaining progressive and responsive to innovation. To this end, the licensing process is rigorous in its evaluation of suitably qualified ‘responsible’ participants that can serve as the UAE’s bar for convergence across global jurisdictions. In keeping with Dubai’s repute as a preferred global hub for entrepreneurship, Backpack Exchange must be recognized for their commitment to prioritize investor protection and risk assurance, and VARA appreciates their readiness to fulfill necessary prerequisites that has made them among the first VA exchanges to secure a full market license within the VARA regime”.

Armani Ferrante, CEO and Founder of Backpack, stated: “It’s time to put an end to the days of opaque crypto exchanges representing everything our industry stands against. It shouldn’t be normal to use an exchange with a single point of failure, without proof of reserves, or without auditability. A verifiable, unforgeable ledger is the exact problem blockchains solve, and Backpack Exchange is taking full advantage of that. Using cryptographic techniques like zk-proofs, MPC, and state machine replication, Backpack Exchange hopes to raise the bar for transparency and compliance to demonstrate the best this technology has to offer. Don’t trust, verify.”

Backpack Exchange will launch in private beta for existing Backpack and MadLads community members this November. The beta will feature spot crypto trading functionality. The exchange is set to go live to the public in Q1 of 2024. The Backpack Exchange team will be working to add in various trading functionalities such as derivatives, margin, cross-collateral while its compliance team, with decades of experience from Barclays, State Street, HSBC, Coinbase, and other prominent financial institutions continues to secure additional licenses around the world.

The UAE Sharjah Digital Office’s “Sharjah NFT” is now live. The NFT will be used to issue verified digital certificates using soulbound tokens which efficiently store and track documents using blockchain through a QR code.

As per the press release, this marks a significant achievement in Sharjah’s digital transformation journey and underlines its commitment to a sustainable future for all.  The platform was inaugurated at the Sharjah Government Pavilion during GITEX Global 2023. It provides an innovative and user-friendly system enabling various entities, including government authorities, educational institutions, private businesses, and event organisers, to issue authenticated certificates as non-fungible codes stored in a digital record.

Sheikh Saud bin Sultan Al Qasimi commented, “In light of the rapid advancement of technology in work and life, Sharjah Digital Office remains dedicated to integrating cutting-edge technologies to benefit the community. These efforts are central to the emirate’s digital transformation journey, driven by the vision of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, who underscores the importance of fostering innovation in Sharjah’s technological domain and prioritising flexibility and efficiency across all sectors.”

He added, “The introduction of the Sharjah NFT Platform signifies a shift from traditional paper certificates to secure and dependable digital certificates, which are easy to issue and offer a high level of reliability and security. The platform acts as a firewall; it is impervious to any form of tampering or fraud and ensures the authenticity and credibility of certificates through blockchain technology, guaranteeing their direct association with the legitimate recipient.” He also stressed that this initiative aligns with Sharjah Digital Office’s strategy to reinforce and expedite the digital transformation journey in the emirate, with a strong emphasis on making significant strides in the domain of smart living.

Users can design and generate customized certificates to meet their specific needs, utilizing the platform’s blockchain-based infrastructure to efficiently create certificate records and serve as a central control hub for coordinating their distribution with maximum efficiency and minimal manual involvement.

iBLOXX Studios announced that their upcoming third-person Web3 shooter, StrayShot (previously recognized as 0xBattleGround), will feature the entire Big Baller Brand family as playable in-game characters. This exciting collaboration will bring NBA Stars LaMelo and Lonzo as well as LiAngelo, LaVar and Tina Ball to life in the virtual world, allowing players to step into their shoes and experience the thrill of the game.

StrayShot is a third-person shooter game designed to deliver an adrenaline-charged experience for gamers of all skill levels. In StrayShot, players become bounty hunters, competing in intense matches with various unique characters, exciting game modes, and ultimately trying to qualify for the monthly tournament which features substantial prize pools.

The exciting collaboration introduces the basketball giants as in-game playable characters, set to be available after the official launch of StrayShot on their in-game marketplace as well as OpenSea and others. Distinct from the majority of Blockchain-based games, StrayShot has been meticulously crafted to prioritize a top-tier gaming experience, subtly integrating Web3 functionalities in the background to enhance, not overshadow, the gameplay. The seamless Web3 gameplay is enabled both by a user-friendly UX design and by the gas-free, high-speed performance of SKALE Network.

Domenik Maier, CEO of iBLOXX Studios, shared his excitement: “Collaborating with the iconic Ball family on StrayShot feels like a slam dunk. Their innovative spirit and influence align perfectly with our ambition, and together, we’re ready to redefine gaming.”

The Ball family is more than just a basketball sensation; they’re an emerging sports empire. LaMelo Ball recently inked a staggering $260 million contract with the Charlotte Hornets, one of the most substantial in basketball history. He is a recognized NBA All-Star, Rookie of the Year, and is regarded as one of the top 5 basketball talents under 22 globally. Alongside his older brother, Lonzo Ball, initially the number 2 draft pick by the Los Angeles Lakers and an All-

Rookie Team honoree, who made a significant impact with the Chicago Bulls, driving them to the Eastern Conference’s top seed before a knee injury sidelined him.

Beyond the court, they’ve marked their territory in the fashion scene with the successful launch of clothing line, Big Baller Brand, in 2016.Their recent venture into gaming with StrayShot
further cements their status as influential figures in sports and entertainment with their trajectory only pointing north.

The Ball family is excited about the opportunity to play directly with their fans in StrayShot. LaVar Ball said, “My boys and me will not only dominate the basketball court, we will also dominate the battleground in StrayShot!“

In February 2023, UAE based Blockchain gaming entity, iBLOXX,Studio secured a $5 million investment in a recent funding round led by PrimeXM. The capital will be utilized to expand the company’s GameFi division. The investment brings the gaming division’s post-money valuation to 30 million USD.