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RAK introduces world’s ‘first free zone’ for Metaverse companies

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Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Ras Al Khaimah, has issued laws to establish apparently the world’s first free zone dedicated to digital and virtual assets companies.

Established under Law No. 2 of 2023, the Ras Al Khaimah Digital Assets Oasis will be an independent governmental authority. The new law grants RAK Digital Assets Oasis financial, administrative, and legislative independence, allowing it to function as a purpose-built free zone to enable innovation in the virtual assets sector.

The setting up of DAO is in furtherance to Law No 1 of 2023, which outlines the establishment of the Department of the Future. The new department will play a pivotal role in promoting innovation and driving the Emirate’s economic development in the digital age, positioning Ras Al Khaimah as a leader in innovation and entrepreneurship in the digital and virtual assets sector.

Sheikh Saud said: “The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah has been playing a leading role in national efforts to strengthen the UAE’s diversified, sustainable economy. With the nation’s focus on digitalisation and encouraging enterprises of the future, RAK Digital Assets Oasis will serve as the gateway for global digital and virtual assets companies to establish their operations and grow their business. Our commitment is to provide an inspiring, innovation-centric environment that helps realize bright ideas that have transformational impact on the world.

“The new free zone will further cement Ras Al Khaimah’s reputation as a destination of choice for next-generation business ventures and the economy of the future.”

To lead the initiative, Sheikh Mohammed Al Qasimi has been appointed chairman and Dr Sameer Al Ansari as the CEO. Sheikh Mohammed is the Chairman of RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC) and a Board Member and Managing Director of RAKEZ, while Dr Al Ansari is the CEO of RAK ICC and a member of the Board of Directors of Marjan, Ras Al Khaimah’s flagship master developer.

Sheikh Mohammed Al Qasimi

The DAO will open for applications in the second quarter of 2023, becoming the only free zone in the world exclusively for digital and virtual asset companies that are innovating in new and emerging sectors, such as the metaverse, blockchain, utility tokens, virtual asset wallets, NFTs, DAOs, DApp, and other Web3-related businesses.

Sheikh Saud added: “Ras Al Khaimah’s unique combination of accessibility, agility, and liveability will foster responsible innovation and position the UAE at the forefront in driving the most successful disruptive tech transformations of the coming decades.

“We are focused on promoting entrepreneurship, including the digital and virtual assets sector, which thrives on innovation and speed. The new free zone will encourage young talent to implement their powerful ideas for the digital world, as well as drive global digital players to expand their footprint through our free zone, which will add incremental value to the economy by creating new jobs and promoting inward investment. RAK Digital Assets Oasis will be a key economic growth engine for Ras Al Khaimah and the wider region.”

 

For more information, please visit www.rakdao.com or follow them on Twitter at @RAK_DAO

Journalist for 25 years with leading publications in India and UAE such as The National, Mumbai Mirror, DNA, Indian Express and former Sports Editor of eIndia.com. Now managing editor of Headline.ae, part of MEMc (https://www.memc.co)

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UAE’s historic space mission ends with astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi’s return

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UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi and his fellow Crew-6 members have successfully returned to Earth, concluding their historic space mission. The crew members safely disembarked from the Dragon Endeavour spacecraft with assistance from SpaceX recovery personnel. Al Neyadi, the last to exit the spacecraft, completed the process exactly one hour after the splashdown.

Crew-6’s remarkable space mission spanned an impressive 186 days, setting a new record as the longest mission in Arab history. The Dragon capsule made a secure touchdown off the Florida coast at 8:17 am on a Monday, with Al Neyadi emerging from the Dragon spacecraft just an hour later. During this mission, Al Neyadi achieved significant milestones, elevating the UAE’s status in the global space arena. He completed the longest-ever space mission by an Arab, spending six months aboard the International Space Station (ISS) and conducting groundbreaking scientific experiments for the betterment of humanity and scientific advancement.

As Sultan Al Neyadi, the UAE’s second astronaut, emerged from the Dragon spacecraft, he greeted onlookers with a smile and a wave. It’s worth noting that astronauts returning from extended periods in space often experience an adjustment period as they readapt to Earth’s gravity. The recovery process for the crew may take up to two hours to ensure their well-being after this remarkable mission.

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UAE’s economic agreements with Turkey and Indonesia spring into action

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The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is entering a new era of economic collaboration with two rapidly growing global players as it activates two of its Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs). The UAE-Türkiye CEPA and the UAE-Indonesia CEPA have officially come into force, setting the stage for enhanced trade and investment cooperation.

The primary goal of these CEPAs is to foster economic ties by doubling non-oil trade. The UAE-Türkiye CEPA aims to elevate bilateral non-oil trade to an impressive $40 billion within five years, while the UAE’s CEPA with Indonesia seeks to push non-oil trade beyond $10 billion within the same timeframe. These agreements also aim to facilitate investment projects valued at $10 billion in various sectors.

In the words of HE Al-Zeyoudi, “The implementation of our CEPAs with Türkiye and Indonesia marks a significant step forward in our foreign trade program. Both agreements will unlock significant opportunities for our private sector in two of the world’s most dynamic centers of growth.”

These CEPAs are the third and fourth of their kind to come into force for the UAE, following successful agreements with India in May 2022 and Israel in April 2023. They are a testament to the UAE’s foreign trade agenda, strategically forging robust economic connections with nations of global importance. Both CEPAs promise to reduce or remove tariffs on a wide range of goods, eliminate trade barriers, and create pathways for investments in vital sectors like logistics, energy, food production, fintech, e-commerce, and travel and tourism.

The UAE-Indonesia CEPA, inked in Abu Dhabi in July 2022, aims to significantly boost bilateral non-oil trade from $4.08 billion to over $10 billion within five years. Additionally, the agreement targets a combined trade in services worth $630 million by 2030. Notably, over 80 percent of UAE exports to Indonesia will now be exempt from customs duties under this pact. This partnership also has an eye on nurturing the rapidly expanding Islamic economy, projected to reach $3.2 trillion by 2024. It will accelerate investment projects worth $10 billion across sectors like agriculture, energy, infrastructure, and logistics. The UAE-Türkiye CEPA is equally impactful, having eliminated or reduced customs duties on 82 percent of product lines, accounting for more than 93 percent of bilateral non-oil trade. Türkiye was the UAE’s fastest-growing top ten trading partner in 2022, witnessing a 40 percent increase in non-oil trade to $18.9 billion. The newly liberalized trade environment is set to drive this figure to an impressive $40 billion within the next five years.

HE Al Zeyoudi also stressed that the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements play a vital role in attaining the nation’s objectives, in particular the vision laid out in “We The UAE 2031”, which seeks to double the UAE’s non-oil foreign trade to AED4 trillion and elevate national exports to AED800 billion. The recently published statistics from H1, 2023, which show a record non-oil foreign trade value of AED1.239 trillion for the first six months of the year, demonstrate that the UAE is firmly on track – and that the CEPA program will help maintain this upward trajectory.

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Elon Musk’s ‘X’ unveils audio and video calling features to come

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In a significant development, Elon Musk’s social media platform, formerly known as Twitter and now rebranded as “X,” is poised to introduce video and audio calling features. The announcement was made by Musk himself on August 31, when he took to the platform to declare, “Video & audio calls coming to X.”

This move is part of Musk’s broader vision to transform X into what he calls an “everything app.” Notably, these features will be accessible across a range of operating systems, including iOS, Android, Mac, and PC. Importantly, users won’t be required to share their phone numbers to avail themselves of these communication capabilities. According to Musk, the app is being positioned as an “effective global address book,” emphasizing its multifaceted utility.

Beyond the communication enhancements, Musk also elaborated on X’s role as a global address book. This announcement comes on the heels of changes to X’s privacy policy, which now includes the collection of biometric data. However, it has refrained from providing a precise definition of what it deems as “biometric” data. Traditionally, this term encompasses data derived from an individual’s facial features, eyes, and fingerprints. Additionally, reports from Bloomberg indicate that the app intends to gather information concerning users’ employment and educational backgrounds.

The updated privacy policy of X states, “Based on your consent, we may collect and use your biometric information for safety, security, and identification purposes.” This marks a significant expansion in the scope of data collection and utilization on the platform.

As X continues to evolve and expand its offerings, it appears poised to diversify its services well beyond its initial identity as a micro blogging platform. The introduction of video and audio calling, coupled with its positioning as a comprehensive address book, underscores Musk’s ambition to make X an integral part of users’ digital lives. The platform’s growing foray into data collection and utilization also raises important questions about privacy and data security, which will likely be closely scrutinized as these changes take effect.

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