Feb 17, 2023

Dubai Embraces Crypto: Grocery Chains, Luxury Cars & Schools Integrate Technologies

The city of Dubai has been a major hub for crypto and Web3 technologies, providing much-needed regulatory clarity and a welcoming atmosphere for businesses in the space. This has attracted many businesses to the emirate, both native and non-native, to integrate crypto and Web3 technologies into their operations. Cointelegraph explored parts of Dubai to find out how crypto and Web3 technologies have been integrated within some businesses in the emirate.

One of Dubai’s most popular and affordable grocery chains, Day to Day, announced that it started accepting crypto payments last year. On Aug. 8, the local media outlet, Khaleej Times, reported that the hypermarket has started to accept crypto payments in their online store and several branches throughout Dubai. Cointelegraph visited the Al Quoz branch and tried to use crypto to buy groceries, but the staff said in-store crypto purchases were unavailable and directed Cointelegraph to use the online store instead. Despite the lack of support in one branch, 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.

Elchai Group, a luxury car club based in Dubai, has found a way to utilize NFTs and various Web3 technologies in their business. Maria Xenofontos, Elchai Group’s chief marketing officer, told Cointelegraph that NFT holders who are also automatically members of their car club would be able to rent physical exotic cars from Elchai’s car collection. 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, Xenofontos 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.

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. Almost a year later, Cointelegraph visited the store to check if they still accepted Bitcoin, but the store clerks said 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.

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.

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.

The crypto and Web3 space in Dubai is growing at a rapid pace, and many businesses are finding creative ways to use the technology to their advantage. Whether it is using NFTs to promote luxury cars or using crypto to buy groceries, Dubai is proving to be a great proving ground for the industry. As the industry matures, more businesses will likely jump on the bandwagon and start integrating crypto and Web3 technologies into their operations.

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