Emirates is investing ‘tens of millions of dollars’ in virtual assets, artificial intelligence, the metaverse and crypto, in a bid to be at the cutting-edge of travel. Jenny Southan reports

Emirates has announced that it will soon be launching its own “collectible and utility-based” NFTs, as well as metaverse experiences for customers and employees. The first projects are already underway, with a launch anticipated soon.

It has also said that its Emirates Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai will be repurposed as a centre for innovation, including the development of the airline’s metaverse and NFT projects. Not only this, but Emirates will also start to accept Bitcoin as payment for flights.

HH Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, chairman and chief executive or Emirates, says: “Dubai and the UAE are blazing the way in the digital economy, having a clear vision supported by practical policies and regulatory frameworks in areas such as virtual assets, artificial intelligence, and data protection.

“Emirates has always embraced advanced technologies to improve our business processes, enhance our customer offering, and enrich our employees’ skills and experiences.Emirates“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.

“It is fitting that our future-themed Emirates Pavilion at Expo is being repurposed as a hub to develop cutting-edge future experiences aligned with the UAE’s vision for the digital economy.”

Emirates continues to engage with industry partners on its Web3 strategy, and recruit talent for its pipeline projects.

No stranger to delivering experiences and engaging with customers in the digital world, Emirates pioneered virtual reality technology on emirates.com and its Emirates app more than five years ago, offering an immersive 3D, 360-degree view of its cabin interior experiences onboard.

Flyers can also explore their seats before checking in online with the 3D seat map, and prospective customers can book their preferred seats from within the 3D environment.EmiratesLast year, it became the first airline to launch its own VR app on the Oculus store, offering users accurate, life size and interactive cabin interior experiences onboard Emirates’ flagship A380 aircraft and Boeing 777-300ER Gamechanger aircraft.

Users of the technology can “pick up” items from the Onboard Lounge, “turn on” the Shower in the Shower Spa, or close the private suite doors behind them. They can even explore the cockpit.