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Gift to Pope Francis Sold as NFT Raises $80,000 for Afghanistan

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 in the form of NFT. While the original remains in the Vatican, its digital representation has been successfully used to collect funds for the people of Afghanistan.

NFT of Historic Carpet Sold for 25 ETH

The Pontifex carpet was gifted by the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi Sheikh Mohamad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan to Pope Francis during a visit to the Vatican City. In September 2016, the two met to discuss the strengthening of the diplomatic relations between UAE and the Vatican as well as the promotion of inter-religious harmony.

On Friday, a non-fungible token (NFT) representing the carpet was sold for 25 ETH, close to $82,000, the Dubai-based Khaleej Times reported. The money raised through the sale will be used to support vulnerable families in Afghanistan during the cold winter months.

Gift to Pope Francis Sold as NFT Raises $80,000 for Afghanistan
Pontifex carpet. Source: Khaleej Times

The head of the Catholic Church will keep the physical version of the carpet, which was woven by Afghan women. The buyer of the NFT will receive a scaled down 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 a change to the harsh lives of Afghanistan’s women and children. FBMI invests in healthcare, education, and an array of social and economic reforms. It also provides employment opportunities in arts, crafts and agriculture.

Maywand Jabarkhyl, FBMI’s chief executive, described the NFT sale as a “crucial step forward” for the initiative. It would enable its team to showcase their designs to a global audience and also open new streams of revenue for local artisans in Afghanistan, he elaborated.

“This is perhaps the most iconic NFT to be sold in the Middle East,” said Musfir Khawaja, co-founder of Nftone, a marketplace based in Dubai International Financial Centre which listed the NFT. “The buyer will get the physical replica of the carpet besides an ornate gold frame on a 165 cm digital canvas with the NFT loaded on it,” he explained.

The token is one of six pieces showcased on digital canvases at the Abu Dhabi Art fair, alongside some of the best contemporary art in the world, the report added. Zuleya recreated the carpet as an 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 authenticity and ownership, have been around for some time but their popularity began to grow in 2020. A recent report by Reuters revealed that NFT sales reached $25 billion in 2021.

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Do you support NFT initiatives like the one described in the article? Share your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Lubomir Tassev

Lubomir Tassev is a journalist from tech-savvy Eastern Europe who likes Hitchens’s quote: “Being a writer is what I am, rather than what I do.” Besides crypto, blockchain and fintech, international politics and economics are two other sources of inspiration.

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