AN EMBASSY IN THE METAVERSE!
- The small Caribbean island country of Barbados has signed an agreement with Decentraland to acquire digital estate to build a virtual embassy.
- With this deal, Barbados prepares to become the first country to build and own an embassy in the Metaverse.
- However, the launch date for the virtual embassy is still tentative, and rumors are it will happen early next year in 2022.
In recent times, the Metaverse has become quite the rave in tech circles as many swear that it is the future of the internet. The Metaverse wildfire grew even more prominent when social media mega-giant Facebook Inc. rebranded itself as Meta Platforms Inc., in an apparent effort to secure its place in the new online space.
It’s no wonder a country is considering and taking steps towards setting up an embassy in this Metaverse.
But, what does the Metaverse even mean?
Very quickly, the Metaverse is a speculated version of the internet, which supports virtual 3-dimensional environments linked through typical personal computers with a combination of virtual and enhanced reality headsets.
In simpler terms, the Metaverse describes a virtual-reality online space where users can interact with other users. Supporters of this virtual world envision its subscribers staying connected through everything from work sessions to game dates, conferences, concerts, virtual trips, and more.
That said, let us explore Barbados’ intent to own a virtual embassy.
Barbados Has Signed a Deal With Decentraland to Build its Embassy in the Metaverse
A few weeks ago, Caribbean Nation, Barbados, put pen to paper in an agreement with one of the leading and largest Metaverse platforms, Decentraland, and legally acquired a piece of digital real estate.
In the agreement with the VR platform, Decentraland, a mega digital world powered by crypto, Barbados summarized its plans to “outline the baseline development elements for its metaverse embassy.”
If this deal goes through until completion, Barbados will become the first autocratic country to have an embassy in the Metaverse!
But, the country plans to keep up with its physical embassies and just under 20 diplomatic missions.
In a press release, the foreign minister for Barbados, Senator Jerome Walcott, reiterated that Barbados was looking forward to welcoming the world through their embassy in the Metaverse. He also said that the Barbados Metaverse embassy would take a central position in promoting the growth of bilateral relationships between governments globally.
However, the proposed date for the launch of the virtual embassy is still tentative. But, if the news is any indication, the Barbadian government is hoping the project can launch by January 2022.
Plans for the Barbados Embassy in the Metaverse
Although the Barbadian initiative to purchase virtual landed property in the Metaverse got cabinet approval in August, several plans are yet to take off. For instance, the Barbadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other related governmental bodies are yet to finalize some specific details regarding the virtual embassy.
Also, Barbados is trying to seal contracts with SuperWorld, Somnium Space, and similar Metaverse platforms.
These multitudes of planning projects aim to identify and acquire land in the virtual Metaverse space, build the embassy and consulate, and construct facilities to make e-visas and other diplomatic services available.
That is not all.
They also plan to build a “teleporter”, which will enable users in the Metaverse to transport their avatars from one digital world to the other.
Whose Brainchild is the Barbados Virtual Embassy?
The Barbadian ambassador to the UAE, Gabriel Abed, is the driving force behind the initiative to pursue and acquire a digital embassy in the Metaverse.
However, considering Abed’s techy disposition, this idea may not come as a surprise. Gabriel Abed is the CEO and founding partner of a cryptocurrency Finance and Technology company, Britt. Interestingly, this company also spearheaded the development of the first digital currency in Africa, Nigeria’s e-Naira.
According to Abed, Barbados views the initiative to acquire a virtual embassy as a one-of-a-kind diplomatic opportunity.
During an interview with a media company, he said:
“This is a way for Barbados to expand its diplomatic missions beyond the 18 it currently has with 190+ countries around the world. This allows us to open the door, using technology diplomacy which then extends to cultural diplomacy – the trade of art, music, and culture.”
The crypto expert also added that visitors will receive “e-visas” and that the embassy will follow international laws as well as the Vienna Convention, which entails the rights and protections that consuls and embassies are entitled to.
Speaking further, Gabriel Abed predicts that the Decentraland purchase will not be the last. Instead, it represents the first of many in an intentional effort to acquire digital land across various metaverses.
“The idea is not to pick a winner – the metaverse is still very young and new, and we want to make sure what we build is transferable across the metaworlds.”
It is no wonder that Barbados is at the forefront of digital adoption as they have always been one of the most crypto-friendly countries. The country was also at the front of the pack during the development and adoption of a digital currency, DCash. Four of the other eight countries in the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union have also adopted D.
It’s Hard to Tell if the Barbados Virtual Embassy is Practical
Experts seem to be conflicted about their views on the Barbadian adoption of a virtual embassy.
No doubt, for many, with quite a number being residents of Barbados, the idea is genius, and the Barbadian government should go full steam ahead. However, others are not so sure. This class believes embassies and diplomatic buildings should remain a ‘brick and mortar’ affair.
Here’s what an associate professor of media and information at MSU (Michigan State University), Rabindra Ratan, had to say:
“In some ways, it’s super cutting edge and innovative. In other ways, they just happen to be the first movers, and good for them, but everyone’s going in this direction.”