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DUBAI: The explosion of NFTs, or non-fungible tokens, that captured the world’s attention is now on the rise in Saudi Arabia. From February 25-27, auction house Sotheby’s will host a three-day digital arts forum at the Diriyah Biennale, Riyadh, in partnership with the Saudi Ministry of Culture’s Visual Arts Commission.

Saudi Arabia and its neighbor the United Arab Emirates have led the expansion of NFTs in the region. At the upcoming Art Dubai fair in March, for example, a new digital art section will showcase artwork from the rapidly expanding field of digital art.

The exhibition covers the recent history of NFTs, which can be loosely described as a certificate that exists only once, is immutable and cannot be traded, from the first NFTs a few years ago to the genre Pop Digital and to collectibles.

“When a collector purchases an NFT, they are purchasing a token (or certificate) and therefore the singular digital artwork or photograph linked to it,” Sotheby’s explained in a statement.

Tyler Hobbs, Fidenza 313, 2021. Supplied

The show is also interactive, with visitors able to walk away with a personalized proof-of-attendance protocol, a collectible digital token in the form of an NFT that registers their presence on the blockchain.

Like the Diriyah Biennale, which runs until March 11, the forum aims to serve as a platform for global dialogue and exchange. It includes a series of lectures by experts in art, blockchain technology and NFT.

“This educational focus on NFT is a natural next step in Sotheby’s strong history of supporting innovative cultural programs and demonstrates our longstanding commitment to Saudi Arabia, echoing the Kingdom’s transformative Vision 2030.” , said Edward Gibbs, president of Sotheby’s Middle East and India. in a report.

While the event is key to the expansion of the Arab world’s digital scene, it also serves to highlight the rise of NFTs over the past year. According to Statista, as of April 12, 2021, “approximately 23,700 NFTs have been sold in the art segment in the past 30 days.” As of February 15 this year, the total number of sales recorded on the Ethereum blockchain over 30 days reached around 35,500.

Since April 2021, Sotheby’s sales in this category have reached approximately $100 million for 100 NFTs, setting many records along the way, including for a single CryptoPunk ($11.8 million) and a single Bored Ape. ($3.4 million). In June 2021, Sotheby’s also launched a digital replica of its New Bond Street headquarters in London in a prime location in Decentraland’s Voltaire Art District, with five spaces inside to display both purely digital or digital replicas of physical works from our sales. More recently, Sandro Botticelli’s “The Man of Sorrows” transformed one of Sotheby’s virtual galleries into a chapel interior ahead of its auction as part of Master Paintings at Sotheby’s New York.

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