Emirates Airline Introduces Bitcoin Payments and NFTs

Credit: Maarten Visser via Flickr

At the 2022 Arabian Travel Market, Emirates said it will soon allow customers to pay for flights with Bitcoin. The Dubai-based airline also revealed more details on its plans to use blockchain technology and NFTs in its business model. 

According to the company’s COO Adel Ahmed Al-Redha, Emirates is interested in using crypto and NFTs to make travel more accessible for global customers. He also hinted that NFTs would be used to streamline various aspects of Emirates’ business. 

For instance, Al-Redha suggested NFTs might be used to track important documents or analyze consumer preferences. Emirates may also use metaverse technologies to streamline training and recruitment processes. 

Last month, Rarity Sniper discovered Emirates’ interest in launching a collection of NFTs on its website. Although Emirates hasn’t released specific details on this NFT drop, it appears these tokens will offer collectors special perks both IRL and in the metaverse. 

Earlier this year, Emirates announced big plans to transform its Expo 2020 Pavilion in Dubai into a Web3 innovation hub. The airline also has previous experience developing virtual reality apps for devices like Meta’s Oculus headset. 

The UAE Welcomes the Crypto Industry 

While some countries have taken a cautious approach to crypto regulation, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) wants to become a prime destination for blockchain innovation. And it’s not just the UAE’s private sector that’s interested in the future of blockchain technology. 

Recently, Dubai’s leaders announced the formation of a new Web3-focused organization called the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). Interestingly, VARA recently bought a significant amount of land in The Sandbox as its “virtual headquarters.”

Dubai’s authorities also vowed to create a tax-free haven for personal and corporate crypto trading back in 2020. The local government says it wants to promote startups in the blockchain industry.

These lenient policies toward crypto have made Dubai an attractive destination for many prominent businesses. For instance, the crypto exchange Bybit announced its plans to move its headquarters from Singapore to Dubai.  

A few other crypto businesses that have a significant presence in the UAE include:

  • Crypto.com
  • Binance 
  • FTX
  • Kraken 

Dubai’s real estate sector has also been investing heavily in the metaverse. Last month, DAMAC Properties poured $100 million into an NFT-focused project called “D-Labs.” Dubai also has its own metaverse with 220,000 plots of virtual land that mimic many of the city’s prime destinations. 

Thanks to these recent efforts, the UAE is considered one of the Middle East’s “crypto capitals.” In fact, this was the first year the UAE appeared on Coincub’s “Global Crypto Rankings” for the most crypto-friendly countries.  

According to Coincub’s analysis, the UAE is the 26th best nation for crypto in Q1 of 2022. In descending order, here are Coincub’s top picks for the most crypto-forward countries: 

  • Germany
  • Singapore 
  • USA
  • Australia
  • Switzerland