About CitiIQ: Considerations, within a framework of Basic Needs, Competitiveness, Opportunity, Livability, and Destiny. Most cities struggle to translate the increasing volume of disparate data into actions that can make life better for their citizens. The CitiIQ measurement system converts raw data into scores out of 100 so those city elements are easily understood and readily comparable within a given city over time, or with other cities around the world. CitiIQ is working to become the global standard for city diagnostics and employs an evidence-based methodology that objectively informs human-centric design to help a city reach its full potential. As a cloud-based subscription service, CitiIQ is easy to use, economical and effective. In April 2020 as the pandemic was expanding globally, UN-Habitat commissioned the CitiIQ platform where city level COVID-19 data was measured and displayed daily for 2600 global cities. About UCLG Africa (United Cities and Local Governments of Africa): The umbrella organization for African local governments, was founded in 2005 in the City of Tshwane, South Africa as a result of the unification of three continental groups of local governments, namely the African Union of Local Authorities (AULA); the Union des Villes Africaines (UVA); and UCCLA AFRICA, the Africa Chapter of the União das Ci União das Cidades e Capitais Lusófonas (UCCLA), The founding congress of the organization was held in May 2005 in the city of Tshwane, South Africa. UCLG Africa brings together 51 national associations of local and regional governments from all regions of Africa, as well as 2000 cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. UCLG Africa represents over 350 million African citizens. A founding member of the world organization UCLG, it is its regional chapter for Africa. Its headquarters are based in Rabat, capital of the Kingdom of Morocco, where it enjoys diplomatic status as a Pan-African International Organization. The organization also has regional offices on the continent. www.UCLGA.org About the 9th edition of the Africities Summit: The 9th edition of the Africities Summit (Africities 9) will be held from 17 to 21 May 2022, in Kisumu, the third largest city in Kenya, with a population of 409,000 according to the 2009 census. This is the first time ever that the Africities Summit is being held in an intermediary city. The theme of Africities 9 is: “The contribution of Africa’s intermediary cities to the implementation of the 2030 Agenda of the United Nations and of Agenda 2063 of the African Union”. For the very first time, the Africities 9 Summit will highlight the first level of the continent’s urban framework, which is made up of around 1,500 intermediary cities in Africa with populations of between 50,000 and 500,000 inhabitants. This layer of the continent’s urban landscape currently accounts for a little over 30% of the urban population. It is the basis for the development of local economies that structure relations between populations living in rural and those in urban areas. It is the first level of development and improvement of local potentialities and productions. It thus represents the first stage in the structural transformation of the continent. It also acts as a buffer and shock absorber in the migration flows between rural areas and large cities and metropolitan regions.


VARA MetaHQ established in the fastest growing decentralised virtual world ‘The Sandbox’


  • Move reflects UAE’s commitment to the New Economy and confidence in the security and sustainability of Web 3.0 ecosystems
  • Dubai seeks to allow the industry and the market to actively engage with the government through block-chain based networks, and enable VARA licensees to scale in their footprint in the Sandbox
  • VARA to create a prototype model encouraging global authorities, market makers, and international thought leaders to build the future ‘decentralised regulatory model’ for Virtual Assets

Dubai, United Arab Emirates: Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) announced its entry into the Metaverse with the establishment of its Metaverse HQ in the dynamic virtual world of ‘The Sandbox’. As the world’s first Regulator to make its debut in the Metaverse, VARA seeks to ensure that the regulator is accessible to its industry in their environment, and facilitate collaborative engagement between global Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs), Industry Thought-leaders, and International Regulatory Authorities.

VARA, established to provide a secure and progressive operating framework for the virtual asset (VA) sector to be able to scale, while assuring market and investor protection, expects to regulate the governing principles of the services and activities, rather than the continually-evolving products and underlying technologies. This bold move reflects Dubai Government’s confidence in Virtual Assets being integral to the future digital economy, and its readiness to establish the Emirate as the world’s Virtual Assets Capital.

Inaugurating the VARA MetaHQ on the Sandbox, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council, said, “Dubai maintains a leading position at the forefront of technological transformation. We have exceeded the role of an early adopter to become an innovator and participant in shaping the future of this technology. Today, VARA joins the Metaverse to become Dubai’s – and the Metaverse’s – first government authority, ushering in a new era in which Dubai Government utilises modern innovations to extend its services and regulatory power to audiences in an open technological expanse, without constraints or borders. VARA represents a serious effort to build a new, powerful economic sector that contributes to the nation’s economy and creates new investment opportunities, and this is possible through the safe and modern regulatory solutions we envision. Our presence in the Metaverse therefore marks the beginning of a new phase in the Dubai Government’s march for the future; one that will have a positive impact in the long run.”

His Highness went on to add, “VARA has been established as a mission-focused Regulator, to nurture and safely scale a rapidly decentralising business landscape founded on four cornerstone principles – secure cross-border interoperability, informed investor adoption, market protection prioritisation and responsible industry participation.

By expanding VARA’s resources to a borderless audience through the Metaverse, Dubai is creating a prototype Decentralised Regulator Model, inviting international thought leaders – global authorities, governance custodians, and industry shapers – to participate, exchange knowledge, and problem-solve collectively so that we enable the dynamic virtual assets sector to build economic resilience, accelerate social inclusion, and address environmental sustainability.”

In an emphatic commitment to enable economic freedom in the Metaverse, VARA joins private sector game-changers, innovators and market makers across ICT, Financial and Professional services, Lifestyle, Entertainment and FMCG beyond the world of gaming and VASPs. VARA MetaHQ will serve as its primary channel to engage VASPs across the globe to initiate applications, enable younger licensees enter the metaverse, openly share knowledge and experiences with consumers and peer regulators to raise awareness, enable safe adoption, and drive global interoperability.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General, Dubai World Trade Centre Authority commented:

“Dubai views the virtual asset industry as the driver of the global future economy. VARA has been established at a pivotal moment in response to the expansion of the Emirate’s incredibly sophisticated and modern legal framework regulating virtual asset activities. As the first niche regulator for the VA sector globally, VARA’s Metaverse HQ also makes the UAE the first jurisdiction to enter this platform, reflecting our leadership’s aspiration to facilitate a borderless new market enabling sustainable economic freedom.

VARA’s acquiring land in the Sandbox is symbolic of our belief in this sector, and the onus is on us as government to be the bridge that allows investors and consumers to safely adopt, and collaboratively scale the economy. In addition to yielding direct economic benefit and GDP acceleration for Dubai, the VARA sees this as the first step towards shared learning and expertise development across global regulators, so that the international community can benefit from a virtual economy that has been allowed to scale safely and sustainably”.

About Sandbox: Each metaverse plot offers a virtual space to purchase, sell, create, and exchange digital assets based on the Ethereum blockchain. The Sandbox was originally founded in 2011 and has quickly gained popularity and status as the leading platform to acquire plots and land in the metaverse, with over 4 million downloads worldwide and $93 million investment from SoftBank.

About VARA: Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) is the world’s first specialised regulator for the Virtual Assets sector. Established in March 2022, following the effect of Law No.4 of 2022, VARA is responsible by decree for licensing and regulating the Virtual Asset sector in the Emirate of Dubai and its free zone territories (excluding DIFC), and oversees all licensing requirements and applications for authorisation of Virtual Asset activities under UAE law. VARA plays a central role in creating Dubai’s advanced legal framework to protect investors and establish international standards for Virtual Asset industry governance, while supporting the vision for a borderless economy.