The tiny Caribbean nation has inked a deal with leading metaverse platform Decentraland to legally declare digital real estate to build its virtual embassy.
Barbados has broken new ground as it prepares to become the first sovereign country with an embassy in the metaverse.
The tiny Caribbean island nation signed an agreement on November 14 with Decentraland, one of the largest and most popular crypto-powered digital worlds, to “outline the baseline development elements for its metaverse embassy.”
The metaverse has become a buzzword for the future of the internet, notably after social media giant Facebook made headlines last month by rebranding itself as “Meta” in its push to stake out territory in the new online social space.
“Barbados looks forward to welcoming the world in its metaverse embassy,” said Senator Jerome Walcott, the nation’s foreign minister.
In a press release, the government said that “Barbados’ Metaverse Embassy will be at the centre of activities to advance the growth of stronger bilateral relationships with governments globally.”
The launch of the embassy is tentatively scheduled for January 2022. In the real world, Barbados has less than 20 diplomatic missions, and still plans to maintain its physical embassies.
The Barbadian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and other governmental bodies reviewed plans over the course of several months. The move to purchase virtual land was approved by its cabinet in August.
The Barbadian government is also finalising agreements with Somnium Space, SuperWorld and other Metaverse platforms, according to CoinDesk.
The various projects will identify and purchase land, build virtual embassies and consulates, develop facilities to provide “e-visa” and other consular services, and construct a “teleporter” that will allow users to transport their avatars between various digital worlds.
Barbados’ ambassador to the UAE, Gabriel Abed, is the spearhead behind the idea of pursuing a digital embassy. Abed is also the co-founder and CEO of a crypto FinTech company Britt, which was behind the development of Africa’s first central bank digital currency, Nigeria’s e-Naira.
In an interview with CoinDesk, Abed said the Barbadian government views the move as a unique diplomatic opportunity.
“This is a way for Barbados to expand its diplomatic missions beyond the 18 it currently has with 190+ countries around the world. This allows us to open the door, using technology diplomacy which then extends to cultural diplomacy – the trade of art, music, and culture,” he said.
Abed added that “e-visas” will be issued and the embassy will comply with international law and the Vienna Convention, which lays out the rights and protections granted to consuls and embassies.
Ultimately, Abed envisions a coordinated effort to build upon the Decentraland purchase and snap up digital land in a variety of metaverses.
“The idea is not to pick a winner – the metaverse is still very young and new, and we want to make sure what we build is transferable across the metaworlds,” he said.
It is perhaps less of a surprise that Barbados is leading the way in the realm of digital adoption, given that it has been among the most cryptocurrency-friendly countries.
Barbados has also led the charge on the development of a digital currency called DCash, which is currently being rolled out in four of the eight member countries of the Eastern Caribbean Currency Union, including Antigua and Barbuda, Grenada, Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Saint Lucia.