Emirates will 'retain its human touch' amid metaverse push

Technology will enhance how customers are serviced, chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said at the Dubai Metaverse Assembly

The metaverse will help Emirates to offer passengers a more customised travel experience. Chris Whiteoak / The National
Powered by automated translation

Emirates airline will ensure that it retains its "human touch" with passengers amid its push into the metaverse, chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said.

The airline truly believes the metaverse will add to how customers are serviced, but wants to do it correctly, he said at the Dubai Metaverse Assembly on Thursday.

"We need to maintain that human touch with our customers but at the same time you are looking for efficiency," he said.

"I am there when you need me — not to stop the process or slow it down. Intervention from the human is as and when required. The metaverse provides us the chance to do that."

The metaverse will enable passengers to choose what they want to eat, rather than only be given what is available, Mr Al Redha said. It will also allow them to decide when they want to sleep and what they want to watch on board the flight — all without the need for human interaction.

"Today, the expectation from customers is different," Mr Al Redha said.

"Say Wi-Fi is not working on board, [then] you are disappointed — people want to be in direct contact with others. We are cutting out the middleman and having efficiencies and passing it on to the customer."

He also highlighted that improved technologies and efficiencies were needed to train Emirates' growing cabin crew team, which totals 16,000 and is set to rise to 20,000 next year.

"It's a huge scale. Without the technology, you can't train them efficiently," he said.

The metaverse is the emerging space where people, represented by avatars or three-dimensional representations, can interact in virtual worlds.

It is part of Web3, the next evolutionary step of the internet, with blockchain, decentralisation, openness and greater user utility among its core components.

The UAE has taken a number of steps to integrate the metaverse and its related technology, including cryptocurrencies, into the economy, government and society.

Emirates said in April that it was planning to build brand experiences in the metaverse and launch collectible and utility-based non-fungible tokens (NFTs).

The airline introduced virtual reality technology on its website and app more than five years ago, offering customers an interactive, 3D, 360-degree view of its cabin interior.

A date for the launch of its first products in the metaverse has not yet been confirmed.

Dubai Metaverse Assembly - in pictures

Updated: September 29, 2022, 8:10 AM