‘Supercharge the metaverse’: Bybit talks Art Dubai Digital debut, GCC market for NFTs

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Art Dubai 2022 featured the debut of Art Dubai Digital, a section dedicated to digital art, crypto and NFTs (non-fungible token), a branch of art which has seen an exponential rise in interest over the past couple of years. In an interview with Al Arabiya English, an expert attributed this rise in interest to prolonged time of immobility experienced during the pandemic.

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“Several factors contributed to the rise of NFTs. The world is opening up as we speak, but creators and galleries were enduring over two years of immobility amidst lock downs and travel restrictions, and they had to find a creative outlet that worked for them,” Igneus Terrenus, Head of Communications at Bybit, told Al Arabiya English. “The mainstreaming of NFT solutions and platforms offered a way for them to reach their audience and get recognized and rewarded for their creations.”

Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)
Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)

Bybit, a world-renowned cryptocurrency exchange and trading platform, was the lead partner for Art Dubai’s inaugural Digital section this year. Art Dubai Digital featured 17 galleries that represented a broad geographic base, including digitally native platforms and collectives, traditional gallery models, and presentations by some new up-and-coming artists whose work revolved around innovation.

“The new section dedicated to digital art gave a voice to emerging artists and market participants, many of whom are first-timers at an international art fair,” Terrenus told Al Arabiya English.

“After a 3-year break, Art Dubai 2022 set the scene for a special moment in time for the Gulf region. The pandemic has shaped the way creators and art dealers operate and the way we receive art, and the UAE is at the forefront of crypto adoption and blockchain innovation. With the talent, infrastructure and policies it has to offer, we believe it stands to become a powerhouse in the physical world to supercharge the metaverse.”

As the art world continues to adapt and evolve in the NFT and digital art realms, new communities are emerging to support them, bringing in new stakeholders and creators with a new perspective on art and art valuation.

Terrenus explained that the commercial aspect of NFTs helped the public see their true value.

“What it offers is verifiable ownership validated on the blockchain… a way for NFT holders to truly own a piece of culture they feel a connection to and back an artist without navigating the complexity of the conventional art trading market,” he said.

Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)
Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)

“This is a new supply chain that goes on to contribute to world-building in the metaverse and a host of communities have been able to benefit from it. For that reason, we see NFT solutions to be part of the infrastructure layer of Web 3.”

“It creates a mechanism to incentivize creators, IP holders and creative asset holders in the dawn of the new web, that will in turn fuel the growth of that universe. We expect to see market consolidations and shakedowns that less promising projects may not survive, but the potential of NFTs goes beyond trading avatars.”

Bybit X Art Dubai Drop

On the opening day of Art Dubai 2022, 15 artworks from galleries participating in Art Dubai Digital were dropped on the Bybit platform in the Bybit X Art Dubai Drop.

Art Dubai Digital also included an exhibition of new NFTs created by the 12 UAE-based and international artists taking part in this year’s expanded edition of Campus Art Dubai.

“Art Dubai provided Bybit with the opportunity to meet the creative community and our peers in the blockchain space. We are keen on connecting with the community here in the GCC region and to learn what crypto can do for them and what we can offer,” said Terrenus.

“We are working closely with key stakeholders to strengthen our presence here to better serve our community and explore institutional collaborations. We look forward to playing an active role in the region.”

Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)
Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)

NFTs have piqued the interest of many people across the world, including artists and art collectors.

“Artists have always been at the forefront of innovative technology,” he explained. “To be creative is their calling. Therefore, it is no wonder that they have contributed so much to the NFT boom in such a short time.”

“We are looking at a transformative technology capable of elevating digital art, an art form with analogue origins [dating back] decades, to scale and dimensions never seen before.”

Apart from enabling creativity, NFT listing and trading also offer an “alternative avenue” to emerging artists and creators who may not have the right resources or connections to properly navigate the art world, he said.

“It is also forging a unique bond between artists and their backers, who through their digital ownership would become part of the creation that will live in the metaverse, instead of a transient mere interaction.”

Bybit NFT Marketplace

Launched in January 2022, the Bybit NFT marketplace sold its Mystery Box collections within one second of listing, recording over 50,000 transactions. The price for one Mystery Box from the initial sale rose by 1,000 times in the secondary market.

Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)
Art Dubai 2022, March 09, Art Dubai Digital Installation View. (Supplied)

“The vision behind the Bybit NFT Marketplace is to streamline digital ownership and support the development of blockchain gaming and the metaverse,” said Terrenus, adding that it is uniquely positioned to provide exclusive Ips in GameFi metaverse and personalized items from public figures and celebrities, which hold great value for fans and collectors.

The platform allows NFT collectors to verify the authenticity and the chain of custody of their favorite NFTs. Users can set up a Bybit spot account, fund it and choose NFTs to purchase through the marketplace.

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