The Sandbox, a subsidiary of Animoca Brands Corp. Ltd., the Hong Kong-based game software and venture capital company, will be taking its Hong Kong metaverse strategy to a new market in Dubai, launching a “Dubaiverse,” the company said at the 62nd edition of the True Global Ventures Conference on Thursday. 

Animoca Brand’s Dubai-themed metaverse will follow the blueprint of its subsidiary Sandbox’s Hong Kong “Mega City,’ a gaming metaverse and virtual cultural hub based on the Asian financial hub of Hong Kong. 

The Dubaiverse will be built through local partnerships, a similar strategy that was adopted in Hong Kong, Animoca said. In doing so, the Hong Kong-based blockchain game specialist will partner with firms in the film, music, entertainment, acting, finance, real estate, and gaming industries. Other planned location-based metaverses are in the works for Singapore, Korea, and Turkey, said Sebastien Borget, cofounder and chief operating officer (COO) of Sandbox Paris.

In a first-of-its-kind partnership in the metaverse, Dubai crypto regulator Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) was the first purchaser of a piece of real estate on the Dubaiverse virtual map, Animoca Brands said. “It’s been a key moment, and from there, we’ve been able to attract other major local partners and brands,” said Borget. 

Mehtap Onder, Managing Director for Dubai at GCEX, a digital brokerage firm, said they will also enter Animoca’s metaverse, offering virtual asset education in a way that couldn’t be accomplished before.  

The Dubaiverse will also have a local news partner, in Khaleej Times following a similar partnership between Hong Kong’s Sandbox and local newspaper the South China Morning Post. 

“As publishers, business models are being challenged all over the world, and new business models come into this space, it’s a really important strategic move for us,” said Sohail Nawaz, Chief Digital Officer of Khaleej Times.  

Meanwhile True Global Ventures, the company hosting the event, announced its total investments in Animoca Brands has reached US$38 million. This comes as American investment bank JPMorgan has touted the metaverse as a likely trillion dollar industry in the coming years.