The UAE is set to witness the launch of a large scale real estate blockchain tokenization project called Desert Pearl. Dubai based tokenization consultancy company, DDX, which is involved in both real estate and gold tokenization projects announced Desert Pearl.

As per their website, “This amazing blockchain tokenization project will be the first large scale tokenization project.” The project vision is to create an eco-tourist attraction that combines Dubai’s history and heritage with the natural beauty of the desert.

The DDX Global team and its partners will build a desert resort city with hotels, apartments, shops, entertainment and business venues. Current plans are to build 1000 hotel rooms, 1200 apartments, a shopping mall and conference center, alongside an amazing pearl shaped building for tourism and entertainment (40 storeys high), as well as a Museum and Heritage center.

The project will be tokenized using Blockchain technology. Land tokens will be collaboratively minted by DDX Launchpad partners. DDX Global and its partners will carry out the development over the next 5 years.

Chris Santilhano, Chief Operating Officer of DDX Global  stated, “Our aim as a tokenization consultancy is to leverage blockchain technology for tokenizing real-world assets, we are committed to creating exceptional value for our investors. In addition to the opportunity for long-term value, our strategic approach of digitizing real estate assets will help strengthen liquidity and enhanced international investment in Dubai’s property sector. Our goal is to create a blue-print for responsible real estate tokenization. The integration and interaction of different tokens and their use cases contribute to the DDX Global ecosystem. We are bridging two core markets – the luxury property sector in Dubai with the growth in fintech enterprises driven by Web3 innovation.”

Designed by Zhuzh, a Dubai-based international luxury, bespoke architectural design company, Desert Pearl will feature two luxury hotels, luxury apartments, a high-end commercial cluster and a luxury retail precinct in addition to a boulevard and private marina. The luxury boutique hotel with 88 keys will also house an arena, an Arabic astronomy museum, planetarium, Concord’s Gallery, and hanging gardens.

The first residential building in Desert Pearl is the Qamar Residences, featuring the Pearl Collection of homes at 400 square meters, the Oasis Collection at 650 square meters and the Sky Penthouse, a triplex, will be a record breaking 5,000 square metres. All the items in the apartments will be customized. All these assets can be tokenized, delivering more value for investors. More details of the project will be announced shortly.

‘Desert Pearl’ resort in Dubai will combine sustainability and high-end tokenization.

In a recent press release, UAE based Fuze, digital assets infrastructure provider, has partnered with UK based Minted Connect; an FCA licensed and regulated API services platform to tokenize precious metals such as gold. Both entities will explore the tokenization of Real World Assets (RWA).

Minted Connect offers a cutting-edge API service that empowers businesses to seamlessly offer their customers access to buying, selling, transferring, and tokenizing 100% asset-backed precious metals.

Fuze is a VC-backed startup specializing in digital asset infrastructure, providing businesses in the MENA region with embedded experiences for their customers, facilitating access to innovative crypto and digital asset products through a regulatory-compliant infrastructure.

Fuze has already established partnerships with leading global and regional banks, fintech firms, financial institutions, and super apps.

The Middle East currently holds a substantial portion of the world’s above-ground gold reserves, with a staggering 1,174 tonnes securely held within the region. This represents not just wealth, but also a historical testament to the region’s deep-rooted affinity for precious metals.

Minted Connect and Fuze want to digitize of 1% of this gold, opening up unprecedented opportunities for individuals to easily save and invest in precious metals, making it accessible to all in a fractionized and digitized form.

Together, Minted Connect and Fuze are poised to transform the tokenization of Real World Assets, leveraging Minted Connect’s expertise in asset-backed precious metals and Fuze’s robust digital asset infrastructure.

This strategic partnership represents a pivotal moment for enabling businesses to tap into the value of real world assets through tokenization, providing new avenues for investment and financial inclusion.

“We’re thrilled to partner with Fuze,” said Shahid Munir, Co-Founder of Minted Connect. “This collaboration truly showcases our commitment to providing innovative and secure solutions for businesses seeking to offer asset-backed precious metals transactions to their customers. The path forward in this collaboration will be exciting for both entities, and will deliver a tangible impact on the industry.”

Commenting on the partnership, Mohammed Ali Yusuf (Mo Ali Yusuf), Co-Founder and CEO of Fuze said; “We are excited to sign this agreement with Minted Connect, who have already made significant innovations in the way people can trade precious metals. Integration with digital assets infrastructure is a game changer for businesses who want to roll out asset-backed, tokenized products to their customers in a secure and compliant manner.”

Others including Aurus believe that Precious metal owners can generate earnings on their gold and make it work for them just by holding it in tokenized form. UAE based Aurus Technologies, offered family offices the opportunity to tokenize real world assets through its sustainable tokenization as a service solution (TAAS) platform.

In 2022 UAE became the home for gold-backed token providers.

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.”

Dubai’s virtual asset regulator (VARA) has not only entered the social media scene but has 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.

As per Mathew White, CEO of Dubai’s VARA, “The industry can expect to see enhancements to the regulatory infrastructure for trading, devising innovative market structures for seamless transactions, and activating real-world use cases for secure, tokenized and fractionalized market participation using trustless blockchain networks.”

Dubai’s virtual asset regulator also discussed its achievements in 2023. VARA, announced that in 2023 it awarded 19 regulated VASP licenses, of which 11 are already operational. In addition 72 initial approvals have been issued to new entrants and have commenced licensing process.

The regulator also stated that it had issued 133 application acknowledgement notices which is a reflection of its proactive and responsive approach.

A total of 116 Proprietary Trading NOCs have been issued, with an additional 37 assessed and ready to be issued while 94 non-VA activity confirmation notices were also issued.

Matthew White, CEO of VARA, commented: “As we open 2024, VARA is poised to accelerate its comprehensive focus on bolstering the infrastructure, broadening the spread and deepening the resilience of our VA ecosystem. Our commitment remains ensuring a secure and innovative environment for service providers and consumers alike. To this end, the industry can expect to see enhancements to the regulatory infrastructure for trading, devising innovative market structures for seamless transactions, and activating real-world use cases for secure, tokenized and fractionalized market participation using trustless blockchain networks.

He adds, “This endeavor involves close collaboration with market participants, particularly the mix of TradFi and native crypto with regulatory peers, underpinned by best practice protocols including those prescribed by FATF. Our goalpost remains unchanged; we started this journey 22 months ago and in this short space of time have built a strong foundation that we are in a position to accelerate from. 2024 will be the year to further Dubai’s position as the global leader in the new economy underpinned by a regulated VA ecosystem, contributing substantially to the GDP.”

When it comes to decentralized Finance, White in the press release, states, “As the lines between traditional finance and decentralized finance blur, VARA recognizes the importance of progressive technology and the need to fast-track maturity in investor and consumer protection, along with managing cross-border risks. We continue to foster awareness, education, and a collective recognition of our evolving digital landscape, leveraging marketing as a vehicle to enhance the impact of our policy-making and regulatory efforts.”

In addition the virtual asset regulator also notes that its Minimum Viable Product [MVP] Licensing program is being phased out as it has served the purpose for which it was initiated in a period where the full market regulations had not been formally launched.

All this will be done in alignment with international regulatory standards, especially FATF. VARA will collaborate with traditional finance regulators, such as the Central Bank of UAE (CBUAE) and the Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA), syncing efforts for FATF-compliant security in cross-border asset flows.

In an interesting move towards including digital assets into the wealth management value chain, DIFC Innovation Hub, global Swiss wealth management Julius Baer and Euroclear a financial infrastructure market firm, have come together to explore how family offices and HNWI ( High Net Worth Individuals) can best use technology to expand their digital asset portfolios as well as apply multi generation inheritance.

As per a press release, DIFC’s Innovation Hub experts will work closely with Julius Baer’s global innovation team and Euroclear’s innovation Centre of excellence for a three-month sprint that will result in a white paper detailing a future-oriented solution for succession planning relating tokenization applied to multi-generational inheritance. The analysis and subsequent findings will serve as a blueprint for other geographies looking to turn similar challenges into opportunities. 

It is estimated that AED 3.67trn (USD 1trn) in assets will be transferred to the next generation in the Middle East over the coming decade. However, only 24 per cent of High-Net-Worth Individuals have a full estate plan in place. Fast adoption of various digital asset classes by individuals and businesses also poses potential complexities to a seamless execution of estate plans currently in place. The DIFC Innovation Hub, Julius Baer and Euroclear collaboration will help bring tangible solutions to this global challenge.

Mohammad Alblooshi, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Innovation Hub, commented, “The region is witnessing a trend of generational wealth being deployed across a variety of digital asset classes to diversify and future-proof their portfolios. By bringing together global leading entities across wealth management, financial services providers, tech disruptors and regulators, this newly launched innovation project will help transform one of the largest, underserved markets in the region and open doors to a more inclusive and tech enabled future for family businesses and the wealth management industry.”

Alireza Valizadeh, CEO, Julius Baer (Middle East) Ltd, added, “Generational wealth transfer is gaining momentum in the UAE, and we, as Julius Baer, are in a unique position to advise our clients having had our origins as a family business. On the occasion of Julius Baer’s 20-year anniversary in Dubai, I am hoping that this innovation project will showcase how we can work together to stay relevant to our future clients and provide a vision highlighting the evolution of the private banking industry especially with the onset of digital assets.”

Philippe Laurensy, Head of Group Strategy, Product Management and Innovation at Euroclear, noted, “As a trusted financial market infrastructure we have a strong commitment to collaborate with the market providing innovative solutions to our clients. We are extremely pleased to be working with DIFC Innovation Hub and Julius Baer on what we see as a transformative journey to address market gaps and create efficiencies by harnessing the power of tokenization. By validating and unlocking the benefits of smart contracts we have the potential to redefine the narrative of wealth management, creating solutions that could span generations.”

The DIFC Innovation Hub has been attracting as well more and more Blockchain, digital assets, Web3 companies from around the globe and locally.

UAE based InvoiceMate, a blockchain enabled invoice financing platform, has 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.

InvoiceMate showcased the potential of obtaining liquidity by tokenizing a Real World Asset (RWA). Acting as the loan originator, InvoiceMate secured funds for client H & H International LLC through the tokenization of essential documentation including the invoice. This streamlined process resulted in a cash flow of $FXD 100,000 (FXD) for a 60-day period. $FXD is a fully decentralized stablecoin soft pegged to US Dollars and over collateralized with the $XDC token using the Fathom Protocol and primarily focused on for RWA DeFi use cases. The success underscores blockchain-powered financing’s efficiency and innovation in traditional finance.

This pilot transaction is an important milestone in the partnership between TradeFinex and InvoiceMate.

Said Muhammad Salman Anjum, CEO of InvoiceMate, “This successful transaction represents the first step in our collaboration with TradeFinex using XDC Network. We are actively exploring the XDC Network as the blockchain protocol for future pilots within our invoice financing platform.”

“Deploying smart contracts powered by the XDC protocol allows us to address the MSMEs funding gap in trade finance. We look forward to scaling up Private Credit deal flow with like-minded partners and establishing standards within the RWA space using Powerful Smart contract Standards created by Tradefinex.” commented Chen Shanlong, Marketing and Partnerships Lead of XDC Network and TradeFinex.

Mahesh Kumar, CEO of Eclipton added, “Eclipton’s core value is to bring more use cases to the blockchain and crypto industry, offering access to a wide range of financial instruments, including stocks, crypto, bank accounts, and cards, all in one place. The collaboration with XDC and InvoiceMate further strengthens Eclipton’s commitment to expanding blockchain applications and fostering financial inclusion through innovative solutions.”

In November 2023, Muhammad Bin Rashid Innovation Fund (MBRIF) selected Blockchain powered working capital financing solutions startup, InvoiceMate to be part of its accelerator program. 

Pave Bank, digital bank for businesses to transact in stablecoins, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and tokenized Real World Assets (RWAs) is seeking regulatory license in UAE as it expands its operations to MENA.

Pave Bank, an approved digital banking license from Georgia and a US$5.2M seed funding round led by 468 Capital with participation from Quona Capital, FT Partners, BR Capital, w3.fund, Daedalus and angel investors has launched.

Pave Bank is the world’s first fully regulated commercial bank where clients can not only get the best in class business banking products (such as multi-currency operating accounts, global payment connectivity, and treasury management solutions) but will also have access to multi-asset custody, virtual IBANs, safeguarding accounts and PaveNet, which is a multi-asset, always instant and always on network of Pave Bank customers.

Salim Dhanani, Co-Founder & CEO of Pave Bank commented: “We have set out to address limitations of today’s financial system that lacks transparency, remains restricted to certain time-windows (clearing and settlement, for example) and is riddled with intermediaries. All of this increases costs, management complexity and also limits the products and services which can be accessed by the majority of businesses and especially, for those operating globally. In parallel, we have seen a number of innovative products that have been created in the digital asset space, but sometimes with a lack of regulation and safety for users. We are championing a new path where Pave Bank customers will get access to the financial products that they are used to, but also a range of digital asset enabled products which will help them bank more efficiently within a regulated and secure environment.”

As programmability in financial services takes off, Pave Bank offers a fresh, secure and regulated platform for businesses to transact in stablecoins, Central Bank Digital Currencies (CBDCs), and tokenized Real World Assets (RWAs). Salim Dhanani added: “There are two major trends that led us to create Pave Bank. Firstly, blockchain is being integrated into the traditional financial system – with stablecoins, CBDCs included, and tokenized RWAs. We are seeing the financial system be built on new operating languages for the first time in over fifty years. Secondly, regulation is here, it’s here to stay, and for the better. We are seeing this narrative evolve around the world – in Singapore, Hong Kong, Georgia, UAE, UK, across the EU and the green shoots in the USA, amongst many others. As a fully regulated digital bank with a proprietary technology stack, we are right at the swell of the programmable financial system wave.”

Pave Bank has started the regulatory journey with a digital commercial banking license in Georgia and plans to continue to build its regulatory infrastructure globally. Georgia is strategically positioned between Europe, the Middle East and Asia, with close ties to the European Union. Its robust and transparent regulatory architecture has attracted a large number of businesses as it seeks to become a financial services hub in the region.

UAE Emirates NBD bank chooses R3, the blockchain and DLT infrastructure provider as latest council member of its digital asset Lab. R3 will join PwC, a professional services firm, and Fireblocks, a digital asset transfer and direct custody technology platform, as the founding council members of the Lab.

R3’s Corda offers distributed application and tokenization platforms powering regulated digital finance. Only Corda offers a permissioned ledger, asset modelling capabilities and a multi-party workflow engine in one interoperable and scalable distributed platform.

By adding R3, Emirates NBD is strengthening the new collaborative ecosystem by leveraging R3’s regulated markets expertise to drive transformative advancements in digital assets, currencies and banking services. The new membership marks a pivotal step in Emirates NBD’s journey towards redefining the future of banking, using R3’s technology to enhance security, efficiency and customer-centricity.

Abdulla Qassem, Group Chief Operating Officer at Emirates NBD, commented: “We are pleased to welcome R3, a technology pioneer, to the Digital Asset Lab. The platform is significant to Emirates NBD’s innovation strategy as it serves as a testing ground for new financial technologies and digital assets. As a digital banking leader, the Lab demonstrates Emirates NBD’s commitment to stay at the forefront of innovation in a rapidly evolving financial landscape.”

David Rutter, Chief Executive Officer at R3, noted, “R3 is delighted to be partnering with Emirates NBD by participating in its new Digital Asset Lab. The region continues to go from strength to strength in global financial innovation, and the creation of the Lab marks another significant milestone in the growth of its burgeoning FinTech sector.”

The Digital Asset Lab launched in May 2023 at the Dubai FinTech Summit, with the goal of enabling and accelerating digital asset and financial services innovation in the UAE.

R3 has been expanding aggressively in the MENA region in the past months.

IOTA utilized the expertise of Zokyo, a blockchain security solutions provider to carry an assessment of IOTA’s white paper and Token economy paper in alignment to industry benchmarks and ADGM regulatory requirements for IOTA’s registration as the first DLT Foundation in ADGM.

 Zokyo Econ Lab a new division of Zokyo is dedicated to assisting blockchain companies in optimizing their token economics, aligning them with both industry and regulatory standards across various jurisdictions. Zokyo Econ Lab specializes in driving exceptional growth at the forefront of blockchain innovation, including ecosystems, protocols, foundations, and DAOs.

Zokyo Econ Lab’s first major undertaking in regulatory compliance involved the successful registration of IOTA, a renowned blockchain protocol, under the Abu Dhabi Global Market DLT Foundations 2023 regulations.

The IOTA audit assessed the alignment of IOTA’s White Paper and Token Economy paper with regulatory requirements and recognized industry benchmarks for their content. This included a proper market, product, and business overview; identification of target users and services provided; explaining reasons for tokenization; token utilities; tokenized ecosystem participants breakdown; usage of the token and it’s value for users; incentive policy, and more.

With expertise in mathematical analysis, Zokyo Econ Lab designs comprehensive token models to maximize value and ensure sustainable growth. By scrutinizing distribution, utility, governance, and incentives, Zokyo Econ Lab identifies and capitalizes on optimization opportunities. It aims to craft robust ecosystems that drive stakeholder engagement and project resilience. This proactive approach positions blockchain projects at the forefront of the industry, ready to adapt and thrive in a rapidly evolving digital economy.

The audit process was structured in two phases: an initial report to identify areas of concern and recommend improvements, followed by a collaborative workshop with the IOTA team. The final report, post-remediation, confirmed IOTA’s compliance with the ADGM DLT Foundations 2023 regulations.

Dominik Schiener, Co-Founder and Chairman of the IOTA Foundation, said: “Zokyo was an instrumental partner in helping to navigate the new regulatory framework of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) in the United Arab Emirates. Zokyo’s expertise and thorough processes helped a great deal in successfully getting the IOTA Ecosystem DLT Foundation registered as the first foundation under the new DLT Foundations Regulations, enabling us to start our next chapter of global expansion.”

Hartej Sawhney, Founder and CEO of Zokyo, added, “The inauguration of Zokyo Econ Lab marks a pivotal moment in demystifying the complex realm of both blockchain regulation and token modeling. Our commitment to offering bespoke compliance solutions extends beyond ADGM, as we support blockchain enterprises in dozens of jurisdictions.”

Zokyo’s collaboration with VAF Compliance, a consultancy company specializing in regulatory compliance within the blockchain and virtual asset sector, further underscores the lab’s dedication to providing superior compliance services.

South Korean game developer, Wemade, and UAE DIFC (Dubai International Financial Zone), Innovation Hub partner to build WEMIX Play web3 gaming community to support Dubai Program for Gaming 2033.

The Wemade-DIFC Innovation Hub collaboration plans to focus on core initiatives, including establishing WEMIX PLAY Center within the DIFC Innovation Hub for WEMIX PLAY. Wemade and DIFC Innovation hub will onboard game companies and facilitate the raising of $100 million Web3 gaming fund to  support the developers, studios and entrepreneurs.

Dubai is a leading business hub with advanced financial services and policies for fostering economic growth, investor attraction, blockchain, and cryptocurrency. Aided by DIFC Innovation Hub, Wemade aims to maintain close communication with UAE crypto-regulating bodies for making the Middle East business strategy as per up-to-date trends.

Wemade is also working on an application for Crypto Token Recognition from the Dubai Financial Services Authority, the DIFC’s Financial Regulator. Tokens conferred with this status will allow financial institutions in the DIFC to carry out transactions with them, to be used by over 4,900 companies in the special economic zone.