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RIYADH: Who would have thought that a day would come when a neighborhood girl in Riyadh could be a part-owner of the Miss Universe crown? Or a person in Dubai can own part of one the most beautiful voices that recite the religious text of the Qur’an?
The dream will soon be a reality as non-fungible tokens, or NFTs, is giving access to anything we can think of today.
Dubai-based luxury jewelry house Mouawad is offering a “fractionalized” ownership of the Miss Universe crown via NFTs.
For the first time, fans of the Miss Universe Power of Unity crown will have a chance to be part of the beauty pageant history. They could be owners of the digital content associated with the contestants and the crown.
And if the crown ever came under the hammer, the owner could vote to sell the pageant, place it in a museum or, still better, trade the tokens with another beauty enthusiast. However, the million-dollar question now is how this is even possible. The short answer is NFTs.
To understand the term, one must closely look at the operative word, fungible. The word means mutually exchangeable things such as dollar bills, shares, and commodities. Non-fungible implies something that cannot be exchanged. NFTs are digital assets stamped, sealed and saved on an online ledger of transactions, referred to as a blockchain. These digital objects cannot be duplicated.
NFTs are a new asset class. It could be anything from a painting to an audio clip or any digital data hardcoded on the blockchain. An individual must sign a “smart contract” to own the digital asset. These properties are tamper-proof and cannot be stolen.
“People invest in NFTs hoping that it would appreciate in value with time. They’re looking for monetary gain to sell those assets later for a higher value,” said Musfir Khawaja, co-founder of nftOne, an NFT platform that focuses on art, culture and creativity in the Middle East.
“It’s like investing in real estate, gold or even cryptocurrencies,” he said.
While digital art has been around for a long time now, the ability to own and trade them at will makes it an exciting proposition. It’s also democratized the art market.
“NFTs open up a new demography of people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested in the traditional collection or production of art,” said Suzy Sikorski, a junior specialist at Christie’s Dubai, the renowned art gallery and auction house.
Sirkosi further added that such platforms empowered digital artists and gave voice to women and marginalized sections of society.
“In many cases, it has given a voice to gender minorities. The voiceless are now finding a clear way through the NFT market, which is very interesting,” she said.
While the NFT market is still nascent, it’s a rage among the millennials and Generation Z, who consider tokens an integral part of their daily lives. The network is now breaching the generation gap by including traditional orthodox communities who hitherto were oblivious about the market potential for their art and craft.
An excellent case in point is the work of Qur’an reciters who had no say in the commercial use of their religious oration. Technically, it’s piracy. Companies such as nftOne are now coming forward to protect their intellectual property rights by offering them a chance to mint their online rendition as an NFT.
“We are in discussions with several reciters who are willing to create NFTs of their recitations and protect their IPR, thereby stopping people from misusing their audio for commercial gains,” Khawaja said.
With newer opportunities and inclusive growth, the NFT marketplace will soon be one of the most happening places on the information superhighway. And this time the writing will be on the blockchain.
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