Groceries to luxury cars: The state of crypto adoption in Dubai

The city of Dubai has been very welcoming to the crypto space, providing much needed regulatory clarity to help the industry thrive. While this is attracting native Web3 and cryptocurrency businesses to the emirate, even non-cryptocurrency companies have begun integrating technology into their operations, such as cryptocurrencies, non-fungible tokens (NFTs), and even the metaverse.

Cryptooshala has been researching parts of Dubai to find out how crypto and Web3 technologies have been integrated into some of the emirate’s businesses.

Ordering products with cryptocurrency

Day to Day, one of the most popular and affordable grocery chains in Dubai, announced that it started accepting payments in cryptocurrency last year. August 8 local media, Khaleej Times, informed that the hypermarket has started accepting cryptocurrency payments in its online store and several branches across Dubai.

Cryptooshala recently visited an Al Quoz branch and tried to use cryptocurrency to buy products. However, despite advertisements for accepting cryptocurrency displayed throughout the store, employees said that in-store purchases of cryptocurrencies were not available and advised Cryptooshala to use an online store instead.

The hypermarket advertises day after day that they accept cryptocurrencies.

Despite the lack of support in one of the branches, the good news is that cryptocurrency users can still shop using cryptocurrency in the online store. The branch accepts Bitcoin (BTC), Ether (ETH), Tether (USDT) and various other coins as payment for online orders.

Screenshot of the cash system of the online store Day To Day. Source: Day by Day

Cryptooshala also reached out to the official Day To Day hypermarket team for their comments, but received no response.

Luxury cars in the real world and in the metaverse

Dubai appeals to many who want a taste of luxury, and one of the most popular ways to experience luxury is by driving expensive cars. Cryptooshala spoke to a luxury car club in Dubai who found a way to use NFT and various Web3 technologies in their business.

Some of Elchai Group’s luxury cars. Photo: Joanna Alhambra

A luxury project called Elchai Group provides luxury cars to a decentralized community through NFT. Maria Xenofontos, chief marketing officer of Elchai Group, told Cryptooshala that NFT owners, who also automatically become members of their car club, will be able to rent physical exotic cars from the Elchai car collection. Xenophontos also explained that:

“Our team is building a metaverse luxury car club. We are already developing The Universe Eye, a metaverse project that will first replicate the city of Dubai. […] The Metaverse will facilitate private events, celebrity concerts and a luxury supercar showroom.”

The project also takes their luxury car club into the metaverse, Xenofontos said, and gave Cryptooshala a sneak peek at their metaverse project, which replicated one of Dubai’s most popular attractions, the Dubai Eye.

Ezra Reguerra of Cryptooshala interviews Maria Xenophontos of Elchai Group. Photo: Joanna Alhambra

When asked about NFTs, the executive said space needed more exploration at the moment. “NFTs need to be explored more as a form of ownership, and I’m sure we’ll see more uses for them in the coming years,” she said.

Ezra Reguerra of Cryptooshala with members of the Elchai Group team.

Flavio Elia, founder and CEO of Elchai Group, told Cryptooshala what inspired the project. “It’s really simple. After 20 years in the luxury car trade, I wanted to fulfill my dream of starting a car club. My love for cars and the endless possibilities of the metaverse motivated me to take on this project,” he said.

Some Crypto Payment Integrations Just Don’t Last

Apart from Day To Day, other businesses in Dubai have also announced various crypto payment integrations in the past year but have not received support. March 3, 2022 Indian restaurant The Bhukkad Cafe, announced that it accepts BTC payments. Nearly a year later, Cryptooshala visited the store to see if they accepted bitcoin. According to the sellers of the store, they only accept cash or cards.

How the UAE Became a Digital Asset Champion in the Middle East

February 16, 2022 Time Out Dubai Media, informed in a new online restaurant called Doge Burger inspired by dog-themed tokens such as Dogecoin (DOGE) and Shiba Inu (SHIB). But when Cryptooshala tried to order one of the burgers, the order never came. Exactly one year later, the project website is no longer available.

Aside from the food business, a popular school in Dubai also plunged into crypto payments but backed off almost immediately. On February 9, Binance announced a partnership with the Canadian University of Dubai to allow crypto payments within the university. However, less than a day after the announcement, the university refused to accept the cryptocurrency, citing technical obstacles.

Even though some projects struggle with crypto integration, the Dubai crypto industry is still alive. In a recent interview with Cryptooshala, Crypto Oasis co-founder Saqr Ereikat said that many talents from all over the world come to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to work in the crypto space.

“We are seeing an unprecedented migration of talent and capital from around the world to the UAE,” he said. In addition, the leader emphasized that at the moment, more than 8,300 professionals work in Crypto Oasis alone.

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