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Emirates Wants to Get Into The Business of Selling NFT’s in the Metaverse… What?

Emirates Wants to Get Into The Business of Selling NFT’s in the Metaverse… What?

Emirates has announced ambitious plans to create a new digital empire in the metaverse, offering customers collectable and utility-based NFTs.  The venture is a shift from the airline’s day job of being, well, an airline but the Dubai-based carrier says it wants a presence in the digital spaces of tomorrow so badly that it’s willing to invest tens of millions of dollars into its latest project.

The biggest question, though, is what even is the metaverse and for that matter what is an NFT?

The metaverse is perhaps the slightly easier concept to explain.  Think of it as a digital world where real people choose to spend their time using virtual reality headsets.  The metaverse is being pushed by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, hence the change of name of Facebook’s parent company to Meta.

In the metaverse, Emirates could sell you a flight that happens in your own living room.  You will never arrive at a real destination because the entire experience will be in a virtual 3D world.

NFT’s are slightly harder to explain.  The acronym stands for ‘non-fungible token’ – a digital token that cannot be replaced.  One of the hottest uses for NFT’s at the moment is digital art in which the owner can prove they own the original through an NFT registered on a digital ledger known as a blockchain.

Confused?  Okay, think of it this way.  Emirates could sell you a one-off digital picture of one of its A380s.  Anyone could copy and distribute the same image but as the buyer, the NFT would prove you are the owner of the original.  

NFT aficionados say the concept is no different to the original Mona Lisa retaining a priceless value even though knockoff copies are constantly being printed.

Emirates says its working on NFT’s as collectables (like pictures), as well as for various utility functions – many of these ideas haven’t, however, been fully realised so we don’t know how Emirates plans to use NFT’s to actually improve its day-to-day operation.

“Emirates has always embraced advanced technologies to improve our business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees’ skills and experiences,” says the Emirates Group chairman and chief executive Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum.

“We are excited about the opportunities in the digital space of the future and are committing a significant investment in financial and resourcing terms, to develop products and services using advanced technologies that will deliver on revenue, brand experience, and business efficiencies.”

The first projects are already underway and the airline plans to unveil its first contributions soon.  That’s likely to involve digital artworks – a market that other airlines, including Qantas, have already got into.

View Comment (1)
  • A famous song lyric explains this, “It’s the lure of easy money. It’s got a very strong appeal.” The late, great Glenn Fry of Eagles fame made that a top hit in the 1980s. The song title wouldn’t apply here because the UAE has strong smuggling laws but, in case you’re curious, the song was “Smuggler’s Blues”. Despite the questionable association by song title, the lyric tells us all we need to know about airlines and their NFTs.

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