Abu Dhabi: The Hidden Gem of the UAE’s Crypto Hub Scene

Dhabi’s crypto scene are finding valuable partnerships and growth opportunities, thanks to clear regulatory guidelines and a growing appetite for fintech innovation.

While Dubai has received more attention as a crypto hub in the United Arab Emirates, Abu Dhabi is quickly emerging as a destination for blue-chip bank executives and institutional-focused markets. According to Basil Al Askari, co-founder and CEO of MidChains, an Abu Dhabi-based digital-asset trading exchange and custodian, Abu Dhabi has a robust financial services industry centered around Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM), an offshore economic free zone with a regulatory framework that is attractive for bridging the gap between institutions and crypto.

ADGM has made a significant investment in fintech innovation, with a particular focus on blockchain and cryptocurrencies. The ecosystem is designed to foster open dialogue between those in the fintech and crypto industries and the free zone’s authorities, resulting in clear regulations around digital assets for institutional-type financial systems like prime brokerages, asset management, and lending.

This regulatory clarity has attracted Canadian digital-asset manager iQ, which was recently licensed in the ADGM. Pascal St-Jean, iQ’s president, notes that “what Abu Dhabi is great at is creating clarity around digital assets for more institutional-type financial systems.” The proximity to Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund has also resulted in substantial investment within the free zone, making it a hotspot for raising capital in the region.

Abu Dhabi is not entirely immune to the effects of the crypto winter, as evidenced by Kraken’s decision to pull out of the region earlier this year. However, new entrants are finding valuable partnerships and growth opportunities within the free zone’s regulatory framework and appetite for fintech innovation.

In conclusion, Abu Dhabi may be under the radar compared to its bustling counterpart in Dubai, but it is emerging as a crypto hub for institutional-focused markets and blue-chip bank executives. The regulatory clarity provided by ADGM, along with the sovereign wealth fund’s proximity, is making the free zone an attractive destination for entrepreneurs seeking to capitalize on the growing appetite for fintech innovation in the region.