Pokemon Go fever has gripped the world. The share price of one of the game’s developers – Japan’s Nintendo – has sky rocketed, people have quit their jobs to give them enough time to complete the game, and some analysts have even speculated that it could drive up oil prices as gamers take to their cars to collect various “Pokemon”.

It is all very silly and no doubt a lot of fun, but the world of augmented reality does offer a very real opportunity for the Middle East as it seeks to offer residents and visitors new and exciting experiences.

 Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

Pokemon Go

Dubai is a regional pioneer at creating zany attractions such as the indoor ski slope at Mall of the Emirates, the sky dive centre at Mirdif City Centre, and the Aquarium at Dubai Mall. Looking forward, as developers look to create something different for the new malls they are planning to build, augmented reality could be the perfect solution.

Instead of investing tens of millions of dollars on a fixed facility, developers could create games that take visitors around the mall as they complete the game – and handily for the developer, drive up coveted footfall. They could even get stores to pay for the privilege of being an important part of the game.

The concept does not have to stop with shopping malls. Dubai wants to be a Smart City and the game could even be extended to the rest of the city, challenging gamers to ride on the metro, visit the beach, or in 2020 visit the Expo site. Augmented reality may be the perfect way to enhance the reality of what Dubai has to offer.