Ali Sajwani at Dubai Metaverse Assembly: Web3 transforming UAE’s real estate

DAMAC Properties targets monthly online-only sales of $150 mn by mid-2023
Ali Sajwani at Dubai Metaverse Assembly: Web3 transforming UAE’s real estate
Second from right: Ali Sajwani at the Dubai Metaverse Assembly

Fully interactive virtual real estate and communities designed in the metaverse are driving significant growth in DAMAC Properties’ ‘pure online sales,’ according to Ali Sajwani, General Manager of Operations at DAMAC Properties and CEO of D-Labs.

Speaking alongside fellow Web3 experts at the Dubai Metaverse Assembly at the Museum of the Future, Sajwani revealed that online-only transactions are accounting for an ever-increasing proportion of DAMAC Properties‘ real estate activity – approximately $100 million per quarter, at present. The UAE-headquartered developer has now set an ambitious target to grow this figure to $150 million per month by mid-2023.

In addition to Sajwani, the Dubai Metaverse Assembly’s ‘Sector Deep-Dive: Opportunities in Virtual Real Estate’ panel featured Joe Abi Akl, Chief Corporate Development Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Group, Guy Parsonage, Partner and Leader at PwC Experience Center, and Sam Hamilton, Creative Director at Decentraland Foundation. The session was moderated by Sarah Forester, Deputy National News Editor at The National.

Speaking in front of delegates during the panel discussion, Sajwani said: “When the global pandemic hit, DAMAC Properties started an online-only channel for sales. We would sell to our customers using Microsoft Teams and Zoom, and these sales are substantial. We now generate over $100 million per quarter using that channel.

“But as you will appreciate, conversions tend to be low because this is not an immersive experience, so we took the decision to invest in the metaverse, creating ‘digital twins’ of all our assets and communities to allow our customers to inspect the villas and apartments they wish to purchase virtually,” he added.

The metaverse, also known as Web3, is increasingly being used by real estate developers to host ‘digital twins’, virtual facsimiles of real-world structures and communities. In conjunction with virtual reality (VR) technology, these models not only enable investors to view and inspect properties from anywhere on the planet but they can also be used to supplement owners’ physical assets by allowing them to engage with digital environments.

Sajwani and his fellow panelists discussed a range of topics related to real estate and Web3, including the burgeoning virtual-only property sector, how the technology is being leveraged to engage prospective investors, and the trends and opportunities we can expect to see as the metaverse develops.

Commenting on the importance of leveraging Web3-specific talent and expertise, Sajwani told delegates: “What’s key for organizations that want to move into this space is to set up a separate entity and team. The talent in this space and the skillset; tend to be younger people who may not be suited to typical corporate cultures. We set up an entity called D-Labs to work on the DAMAC Group metaverse project.”

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