As part of its attempts to strengthen its digital economy, Dubai expects more than 1,000 bitcoin businesses to be operating by 2022.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have put in place a sophisticated structure to encourage crypto entrepreneurs to set up exchanges while also establishing rules to safeguard consumers.
“Five years ago you wouldn’t see people coming to Dubai to do the cryptocurrency business … we’re open-minded, and we’re willing to change regulations with reason,” Dr Marwan Al Zahrouni, chief executive of the Dubai Blockchain Centre, said at a conference held during Gitex Global in Dubai on Monday.
Consumers and investors are flocking to digital assets as online payments gain traction, and interest in cryptocurrencies and blockchain is booming, particularly in the UAE. According to a survey conducted by Nickel Digital Asset Management in London, an increasing number of institutional investors and wealth managers in the UAE intend to increase their exposure to digital assets between now and 2023.
The UAE Central Bank does not licence cryptocurrencies, yet a number of cryptocurrency exchanges have been granted permission to operate within the financial free zones. The UAE dirham is the country’s only legal money recognised by the Central Bank.
The DMCC Crypto Centre, which opened in May to promote cryptography and blockchain technology in Dubai, is home to more than 100 crypto-related businesses, with 900 more applying for licences. In the UAE, there are about 400 crypto firms functioning.
Ahmed bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of the DMCC, believes the UAE will have “well over” 1,000 crypto firms by the end of 2022.
According to Ralf Glabischnig, founder and board member of Swiss crypto centre CV Labs, the market in Dubai will “expand quicker than anywhere else,” and the current interest from investors and entrepreneurs is due to the emirate’s economic environment.