A carpet presented by the United Arab Emirates as a gift to the head of the Catholic Church a few years ago has been sold as an NFT. While the original remains in the Vatican, its digital representation has been successfully used to raise funds for the people of Afghanistan.
Historic carpet NFT sold for 25 ETH
The Pontifex rug was donated by Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohamad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Pope Francis during a visit to Vatican City. In September 2016, the two men met to discuss strengthening diplomatic relations between the UAE and the Vatican as well as promoting inter-religious harmony.
On Friday, a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the rug was sold for 25 ETH, or nearly $82,000, the Dubai-based Khaleej Times reported. The money raised from the sale will be used to support vulnerable families in Afghanistan during the cold winter months.
The head of the Catholic Church will keep the physical version of the rug, which was woven by Afghan women. The buyer of the NFT will receive a reduced replica of the original created by Zuleya, the retail arm of Fatima Bint Mohamed Bin Zayed Initiative (FBMI).
The initiative was established in 2010 to bring change to the harsh lives of Afghan women and children. FBMI invests in health care, education, and a range of social and economic reforms. It also offers employment opportunities in arts, crafts and agriculture.
Maywand Jabarkhyl, managing director of FBMI, described the sale of NFT as a “crucial step forward” for the initiative. This would allow his team to showcase their designs to a global audience and also open up new sources of income for local artisans in Afghanistan, he said.
“This is perhaps the most iconic NFT sold in the Middle East,” said Musfir Khawaja, co-founder of Nftone, a Dubai International Financial Center-based marketplace that listed the NFT. “The buyer will receive the physical replica of the rug in addition to an ornate gold frame on a 165cm digital canvas with the NFT loaded onto it,” he explained.
The token is one of six pieces featured on digital canvases at the Abu Dhabi Art Fair, alongside some of the world’s best contemporary art, the report adds. Zuleya recreated the mat as NFT in partnership with the Morrow Collective NFT platform.
NFTs, which offer a unique way to reproduce digital files such as photos, videos and audio and store them on a blockchain to prove their authenticity and ownership, have been around for a while, but their popularity has started to grow in 2020. A recent report by Reuters revealed that NFT sales reached $25 billion in 2021.
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Image credits: Shutterstock, Pixabay, Wiki Commons
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