Dubai and Abu Dhabi have been rated tops in the regulatory structure, according to the latest report from CoinDesk. This criterion holds the heaviest weightage of the total score. However, the report indicates that the UAE has a low score in crypto adoption, making it difficult for the larger population to be as crypto-savvy as the residents in these two hubs. Despite the low overall drivers category score, Dubai has still managed to cement its position in the top five with high scores in the opportunities category.
The report highlights that Dubai has been growing as a business and financial services hub for the Middle East over the last few decades, by embracing innovation. This is particularly evident in how it approached crypto with deliberation and intention. The local government engaged with IBM to advise on new technologies, leading to the official announcement in 2015 that it was discussing a legal framework for cryptocurrencies. Six years later, in March 2021, Dubai established the world’s first independent crypto regulator, Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA).
Dubai seems to be attracting some of the biggest names in crypto. Binance co-founders Changpeng Zhao and He Yi have made it their home, and Coinbase’s Brian Armstong has met with its regulators. Even Wazirx, one of India’s largest exchanges, is moving its headquarters to Dubai. Bader Al Kalooti, Executive Director of Binance MENA, explained that Dubai has become a melting pot of people, with over a million of the Emirate’s total population of 9.8 million being non-Emirati.
Dubai’s unique position as a crypto hub comes from its offering of a home for numerous types of use cases. With a diverse population, blockchain technology has numerous use cases in the city, ranging from facilitating the flight of capital for those taking refuge from unstable economies, to remittances for those working in Dubai and sending money home. The government unveiled the Dubai Metaverse Strategy in 2021, intending to create one of the world’s top metaverse economies, as well as a global hub for the metaverse community.
Dubai’s infrastructure is supported by its strategic location, which is in proximity to Northern Africa, Asia, and Europe, making it a global networking and collaboration hub. The city hosts GITEX (Gulf Information Technology Exhibition), a leading tech conference featuring blockchain and Web as two of its focus areas. According to local reporting, GITEX had attendees in 2021, indicating the growing interest in blockchain technology in the region. Additionally, there is no shortage of crypto events in Dubai, such as Binance Blockchain Week and Dubai Fintech Week. After leaving IBM, Saqr Ereiqat, co-founded Dubai-based Crypto Oasis, further highlighting the city’s conducive environment for crypto ventures.