For some time, the metaverse has been the focus of much discussion, particularly regarding its applications in gaming, online retail, and social media. However, Saudi Arabia is taking its potential further, harnessing the metaverse for industrial use.
At the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos on Thursday, the Kingdom’s Communications Minister Abdullah Alswaha declared that Saudi Arabia was doubling down on talent development within the nation’s industrial metaverse.
So, what exactly is Saudi Arabia doing, and how is it planning to use the metaverse to its benefit? But first, let’s understand what the industrial metaverse is.
What is the industrial metaverse?
The industrial metaverse is a technology that could revolutionize the world of production. It combines virtual reality (VR), augmented reality (AR), and other digital technologies to create a virtual world that mirrors real machines, factories, buildings, transportation, grids, and other industrial objects and systems.
This could create a new mode of smart manufacturing that could interact between the virtual and real worlds, enhance industrial value, and build a new ecology of industrial digitalization.
A possible application of this technology could be the creation of digital twins, which would simulate the entire company or factory, optimize the building, and detect and mitigate potential problems. This could help avoid planning errors that would have cost time and money in the past.
In coming years, digital twins could become a crucial precondition for the rise of the Industrial Metaverse, as they provide the virtual environment for persistent simulation and live interaction and as a link between the virtual and real worlds.
Saudi Arabia and its metaverse conquest
As Saudi Arabia shifts its economy to meet its Vision 2030 goals, a Strategy & Middle East report has predicted that the metaverse could contribute up to $7.6 billion annually to its economy by 2030.
In line with this, the Kingdom has pledged to invest $6.4 billion in advanced technologies, including a $1 billion fund for the Metaverse.
In 2022, the digital division of NEOM, a $500 billion city on the Red Sea, announced the use of the metaverse to allow users to exist simultaneously in a real-world and digital world.
This can benefit architects, engineers, designers and others by creating a platform for working together and personalizing the development process. Additionally, the Saudi Crown Prince had suggested a digital twin of the development to facilitate the build, design and optimization stages before the start of work on the project.
Moreover, in November 2022, Saudi billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal spearheaded the launch of an innovative virtual philanthropy center in the metaverse, boasting a part of a range of projects implemented in Saudi Arabia.
Perspectives for Saudi Arabia
Saudi Arabia’s young and educated population has opened up vast new opportunities for the country to become a pioneering power in the metaverse. With 65% of its population under 35, predominantly living in urban areas, and highly educated, the country is in a prime position to embrace the new possibilities presented by the metaverse.
However, as the metaverse offers both opportunities and risks, Saudi Arabia needs to comprehensively understand the implications and develop a policy framework that considers these. With the right approach, the nation could be at the forefront of a new era of technology.