Global Metaverse Leaders Emerge: Seoul, Dubai, and Santa Monica spearhead WEF report’s list

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has identified Seoul, Dubai, and Santa Monica as the leading cities in the growing metaverse sector, as per a report by technology intelligence firm ABI Research.

The report anticipates that nearly 700 cities worldwide will embrace metaverse infrastructure by 2030. WEF highlighted the advantages of cities exploring the metaverse, citing potential cost savings in urban infrastructure design and operation. The metaverse also offers a pathway for cities to gain ‘political capital’ by fostering tech-friendly communities.

In Santa Monica, the metaverse has manifested through FlickPlay, a social media app enabling users to navigate the city virtually. FlickPlay encourages users to explore less-traveled areas, creating economic activity and reducing crime.

In Dubai, the metaverse plays a pivotal role in the city’s economic growth campaign, aiming to become one of the world’s top cities in terms of GDP. Dubai plans to attract 1,000 firms in blockchain and metaverse sectors and host over 40,000 Web3 professionals in the next seven years. The WEF report noted that over 50 per cent of Dubai consumers are eager to create and monetise metaverse content.

Seoul’s metaverse expansion is government-backed, with South Korea committing $180 million to develop a national metaverse ecosystem. Metaverse Seoul, in its initial phase, offers an urban metaverse app for residents to play games, explore attractions, and complete tasks. Seoul’s future metaverse plans include connecting local industries with foreign investors and integrating virtual and augmented reality into the city’s infrastructure. The WEF report emphasises the Korean government’s dedication to fostering metaverse growth.

Despite challenges faced by the metaverse sector, including consecutive losses in Meta’s metaverse-dedicated unit, industry leaders like Mark Zuckerberg remain optimistic.

The global metaverse market, estimated at $65.5 billion in 2022, is expected to reach $82 billion in 2023 and surge to an impressive $936.6 billion by 2030, according to Statista. As cities worldwide invest in metaverse infrastructure, the sector’s projected growth aligns with the continued enthusiasm and commitment from influential figures like Zuckerberg.

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