DUBAI: Palestinian entrepreneur Nabil Al-Sayed recently launched the first non-fungible token platform in the region, NIFTY Souq, in a bid to give creatives in the Arab world ownership of their digital art.
NFTs, according to Al-Sayed, are proof of ownership and authenticity for creatives, such as artists, poets, musicians and singers.
“It’s a smart contract, which we call a token, which proves that a certain asset — usually a digital asset — belongs to someone,” explained the founder, who was born and raised in the UAE.
To simplify the concept, Al-Sayed, who currently lives in France, said that people could exchange a $10 banknote with two $5s, but non-fungible tokens cannot be replaced.
“Take, for example, the Mona Lisa painting. You cannot just exchange it with another Mona Lisa because there is only one, and this is what non-fungible means. It’s something that you cannot have a duplicate of. Every NFT is unique.”
The businessman explained that this ensures the artist’s work does not get duplicated or stolen.
“Once an NFT is associated with any work, it proves that this work is original, and in the smart contract that is found in the NFT, it proves who owns this asset,” said Al-Sayed. “Another use for NFTs is having a signed copy or a CD from your favorite singer in your wallet.”
NFTs make it possible for talents to receive a percentage every time their work is sold or changes hands, he added.
NIFTY Souq is offering zero minting costs for all artists launching NFTs on the platform, allowing creatives to price their own NFTs, get immediate profits and enjoy access to more fans.
“NFTs empower the creators. Now, singers need label companies and artists need the art galleries to help them promote their art,” said Al-Sayed.
But with NFTs, “you break that barrier, and you give the power to the artists themselves, or the creators themselves, and they get their funds immediately and on the spot.
“We love streaming platforms like YouTube and Spotify; we appreciate them. But the artist makes a minimal amount of the profits that they could otherwise make if they owned the asset and could sell it themselves,” he explained.
However, the founder does not believe that NFTs will close down streaming services and galleries.
“I think there could be collaborations in which NFTs could be associated with these platforms. But the future is unclear. It’s a new thing, so we will have to wait and see,” he said.
Al-Sayed, along with his partners, executed a soft launch of the platform on Aug. 26.
The platform, which is expected to fully launch by mid-September, has already signed multiple artists and collectors.
“We wanted to bring NFTs to the region because we believe in them. We know that this is the future. Why go to foreign platforms to sell our regional art? We want to have something from the region to give to the region in order to better help, support and grow this community,” said Al-Sayed.