Khalid Jasim Al Midfa, Chairman of Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority (SCTDA), unveiled the ‘SharjahVerse’ and ‘Shj AI Guide - Robot’ projects, at the Sharjah Government pavilion at GITEX Global 2022.

The new project will enable tourists, residents and visitors to explore the emirate of Sharjah in the virtual universe.

SCTDA has created a highly realistic metaverse ecosystem using a combination of real-world 3D videography and advanced generative AI.

Currently in the first phase of this project, SCTDA will feature select destinations and attractions on the Metaverse. Tourism-related non-fungible tokens (NFTs) will be created as well. The platform will soon be live on SCTDA’s official website, and will be accessible from most devices. There are plans to further develop this project. New phases and developments of the project will be announced in the near future.

The ‘Shj AI Guide - Robot’, a virtual tour guide service which will provide interactive replies to queries, is embedded with AI technology in a robot form to provide a range of information on the emirate including tourism destinations, services and offerings.

The guide responds to both voice and written messages in five languages - Arabic, English, German, Russian and Chinese. In addition, it offers round-the-clock service and provides information, images and videos of destinations and contact details of tour guides and directions to tourist destinations.

The smart robot tour guides, to be employed in various local and international events as part of the second phase of the project, was launched at Gitex 2022.

In the third phase, scheduled to start in 2023, a special platform will be launched to educate tourists about the smart tour guide and reveal ways to benefit from its presence in more than 80 locations in the emirate.

2024 will see the launch of the fourth phase, where the various services of the authority will be integrated within the smart tour guide, including the services of Sharjah hotel establishments and safari vehicles.

Announcing the launch of these projects, Al Midfa said: “Advanced technologies provide great opportunities to boost and enhance the tourism sector. With the accelerated pace of technical advancement, AI technologies are impacting every aspect of the tourism sector right from welcoming and serving guests, responding to inquiries and analysing their preferences to updating the tourism sector’s progress with accurate data to serve customers better.”

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