Earlier this year, before the current bear market truly set in, Binance was celebrating victory after victory in the Middle East, getting licensed as a crypto asset service provider in Bahrain and the UAE.
Binance could launch a full crypto assets trading platform in both of those countries as early as this month, the company’s Middle East and North Africa director Richard Teng said in May.
When it comes to the United Arab Emirates, the biggest crypto exchange in the world is not alone. Kraken, Bybit, and FTX are also getting ready to start serving UAE-based customers and set up regional headquarters there.
Global crypto hub
Launching virtual assets services in the country has been relatively easy thanks to a “sense of greater regulatory clarity” at both the Abu Dhabi Global Market, the city's international financial centre, and throughout the country, according to Citi’s future of finance expert Ronit Ghose.
In February, Dubai Emirate has passed a sweeping crypto-friendly law, the Regulation of Virtual Assets, to define the regulatory framework and pave the way for the UAE to position itself as a global crypto hub.
The development of crypto firms and digital assets custodians in the region is supervised by the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority.
The buzz goes beyond institutional development. According to Gemini’s recent report on the global adoption of crypto, 49% of United Arab Emirates citizens are crypto-curious, which means that they don’t hold crypto at the moment, but either wish to learn more about the cryptocurrency ecosystem or say they are likely to buy some digital assets in the near future.
The UAE’s result is above average, eight percentage points higher than the rate of crypto-curious respondents across the world. What’s more, 35% of people in the United Arab Emirates already have some experience with the crypto space, according to Gemini.
Recently, the city of Abu Dhabi announced it was giving out free digital currency, NFT, and blockchain domain names to all interested women living in the Emirate. The initiative was designed to help women “learn about and ultimately participate in Web3.”
While the gift, which comes with little training or additional support, is unlikely to onboard too many women or women-led local businesses, it’s a signal that the United Arab Emirates sees its crypto-friendly policies as a multifunctional new tool to attract global business and improve its international public image.
Where to buy Bitcoin in the UAE?
Even as major crypto exchanges are getting ready to extend their full range of services to UAE-based customers, and Dubai is emerging as a new crypto hub, crypto is getting more and more accessible to retail investors, particularly in Dubai.
As of this writing, the city had four crypto ATMs, two of which were installed this year. A Turkish OTC Bitcoin trading desk Coinsfera also announced that it was setting up a physical shop in Dubai, in the Cluster F of the Jumeirah Lake Towers.
Using a crypto ATM or physical shop can be convenient as they accept cash, but those transactions tend to carry a large commission.
UAE-based customers can set up accounts with a number of crypto exchanges, including eToro and Crypto.com. The largest crypto exchange in the Middle East and North Africa region, BitOasis, also allows trading against the country’s fiat currency, UAE Dirham (AED).