Feb 17, 2023

Dubai Embraces Crypto: Groceries, Luxury Cars, and Schools Now Accepting Payments

Dubai is quickly becoming one of the most attractive places for businesses in the Web3 and crypto space, thanks to its regulatory clarity and welcoming attitude towards cryptocurrency. This has led to the integration of crypto and Web3 technologies in many businesses in the emirate, from grocery stores to luxury car clubs.

Cointelegraph recently explored Dubai to find out how businesses in the city have integrated cryptocurrencies and nonfungible tokens (NFTs) into their operations.

Grocery Shopping with Crypto

One of the most popular grocery stores in Dubai, Day to Day, started accepting cryptocurrency payments last year. On Aug. 8, the local media outlet, Khaleej Times, reported that the hypermarket began accepting crypto payments in their online store and in several branches throughout Dubai.

Cointelegraph visited the Al Quoz branch and tried to use crypto to buy groceries, but unfortunately, the staff said that in-store crypto payments were unavailable and directed Cointelegraph to use the online store instead.

Day to Day hypermarket advertising that they accept cryptocurrencies.

The good news is that crypto users can still shop using crypto on the online store. The branch accepts Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT) and various other coins as payment for online orders.

Cointelegraph also reached out to the official Day To Day hypermarket team to get their comments but did not get a response.

Luxury Cars in the Real World and in the Metaverse

Dubai is a popular destination for those who want to experience luxury, and one of the most popular ways to do that is to drive expensive cars. Cointelegraph spoke with a luxury car club based in Dubai that found a way to utilize NFTs and various Web3 technologies in their business.

Elchai Group is a luxury project that is bringing luxury cars to the decentralized community through NFTs. Maria Xenofontos, Elchai Group’s chief marketing officer, told Cointelegraph that NFT holders who are also members of their car club would be able to rent physical exotic cars from Elchai’s car collection.

Xenofontos also explained that the project is also bringing their luxury car club to the metaverse and gave Cointelegraph a sneak peek at their metaverse project that replicated one of Dubai’s most popular attractions, the Dubai Eye.

When asked about NFTs, the executive said that the space needs more exploration at the moment. “NFT as a form of ownership is something to explore more, and I am sure we will see their actual use case more in the coming years,” she said.

Flavio Elia, the founder and CEO of Elchai Group, told Cointelegraph the inspiration behind the project. “It’s simple, really. After 20 years in the luxury car trading business, I wanted to pursue my dream of forming a car club. It’s my love for cars and the endless possibilities in the metaverse that has driven me to pursue this project,” he said.

Crypto Payment Integrations that Don’t Last

Apart from Day To Day, other businesses within Dubai have also announced various crypto payment integrations in the last year but failed to gain traction. On March 3, 2022, the Indian restaurant, The Bhukkad Cafe, announced that it accepted BTC payments. But when Cointelegraph visited the store to check if they still accepted Bitcoin, the store clerks said that they only accept cash or card.

On Feb. 16, 2022, the media outlet, Time Out Dubai, reported on a new online restaurant called Doge Burger, taking inspiration from dog-themed tokens like Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB). But when Cointelegraph tried to order one of the burgers, the order did not arrive. Exactly one year later, the project’s website cannot be accessed anymore.

Apart from food businesses, a popular school in Dubai also dipped its toes into crypto payments but backtracked almost immediately. On Feb. 9, Binance announced a partnership with the Canadian University Dubai to enable crypto payments within the university. However, less than a day after the announcement, the university backtracked on accepting crypto, citing technical roadblocks.

Related: How the UAE became the Middle East’s digital asset champion

Despite some projects struggling with crypto integrations, Dubai’s crypto industry is still alive. In a recent Cointelegraph interview, Crypto Oasis co-founder Saqr Ereiqat said that many talents from around the world are coming into the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to work in the crypto space.

“We are witnessing an unprecedented migration of talent and capital from around the world into the UAE,” he said. In addition, the executive highlighted that at the moment, more than 8,300 professionals are working in the space in the Crypto Oasis alone.

It’s clear that Dubai is becoming an increasingly attractive place for businesses in the Web3 and crypto space. With its welcoming attitude towards crypto, its regulatory clarity and the integration of crypto and Web3 technologies in many businesses, Dubai is quickly becoming a hub for NFT marketing, crypto promotion and selling NFTs.

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