Since the launch of the Bitcoin network in 2009, cryptocurrencies have evolved into a multi-billion-dollar industry. With around 12,000 exchange marketplaces where cryptocurrencies such as bitcoin, ether and others are traded, according to cybersecurity company Carbon Black, the cryptocurrency market is massive, weighting over US$127 billion as of January 10, 2019.
Today, cryptocurrencies are present in nearly all countries around the world, including the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Though UAE-based customers can buy cryptocurrencies from international exchanges such as Kraken, Bittrex, and Binance, local options also exist. These include BitOasis, a cryptocurrency exchange based in Dubai and present in the UAE, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Saudi Arabia. BitOasis supports Bitcoin, Ethereum, Ripple, Litecoin, Monero, ZCash, Ethereum Classic, and Stellar, among other coins.
To buy cryptocurrencies through BitOasis, users need to first open an account and register their bank account. Not all banks in UAE allow transfer of funds to BitOasis and the company will need to approve the bank account first in order to transfer the funds.
Once the account is approved, users can deposit money into their account. When the funds are credited, they can proceed to buy any of the cryptocurrencies available on the platform.
Besides BitOasis, other options include Regal RA DMCC, a renowned gold trader in Dubai and the first company in the Middle East to be granted a crypto trading license, RightBTC, the first crypto-to-crypto exchange based in Dubai, and newly launched Bitex, a platform supporting Bitcoin, Bitcoin Cash, Ethereum and Litecoin.
Finally, customers can also buy bitcoin in the UAE via Localbitcoins.com, an over-the-counter (P2P), peer-to-peer exchange platform that matches buyers and sellers locally. People can choose to meet in person or to conduct the transaction entirely remotely.
The UAE poised to become a blockchain leader
The UAE, the second-biggest Arab economy, has set out to become a leader in blockchain.
According to Rashid Yusup, CEO of Taklimakan, which provides services in crypto education, analytics and social networking, the country is ahead of the global pack in its adoption of crypto. In particular, Yusup cited the Dubai Blockchain Strategy which aims to position the city as a leader in the technology.
“Dubai is on course to become the first economy to operate its own cryptocurrency by the year 2020 and the Dubai Land Department is possibly the world’s most advanced use of blockchain by any government entity,” Yusup said, quoted by Albawada. He added that the UAE was rapidly developing a tech economy and that blockchain was at its core in both the public and private sectors.
The country is also developing several cryptocurrency and blockchain projects on a state level, including a cryptocurrency initiative in partnership with neighboring Saudi Arabia for cross-border transactions.
One major development that will take place this year in the UAE is the upcoming regulations covering crypto-assets. Rules for initial coin offerings (ICOs) are set to be finalized by mid-2019 and will bring the UAE in the ranks of top global financial markets regulating crypto-assets.