- Leaders in Dubai now want to create a different type of city, one built in the Metaverse and home to some of the biggest names in cryptocurrency.
- The biggest “whale” in the cryptocurrency exchange arena Binance has chosen to call Dubai home, where it already has about 200 staff spread across three offices in the city.
Having missed the boat on Web 2.0, the Middle East has become a hotbed for the so-called Web3 revolution centered around cryptocurrencies and blockchain.
Nowhere is this willingness to embrace all things crypto more apparent than in Dubai, the shining city sitting on the Persian Gulf that just over two decades ago was nothing more than a sleepy fishing village.
Leaders in Dubai now want to create a different type of city, one built in the Metaverse and home to some of the biggest names in cryptocurrency.
Cryptocurrency firms from all over the world are racing to set up shop in Dubai after it started offering virtual asset licenses, making the Gulf state the latest (and arguably most attractive) jurisdiction to become a haven for the global cryptocurrency industry.
Major cryptocurrency exchanges like ByBit, Crypto.com, FTX and Binance have all made moves to either establish their global headquarters in Dubai, or to gain a foothold in the city, often leaving other jurisdictions like Singapore and Hong Kong.
While Singapore for a time looked like it could potentially have become a digital asset hub, such hopes have since faded as just a handful of firms were approved licenses under its Payment Services Act, and banned advertising of cryptocurrencies to retain investors.
One of the biggest departures has been Binance, who very publicly upped and left Singapore for Dubai which he has said has a “open mindset and a business friendly attitude.”
To be sure, Dubai also has a lot less to lose by doubling down on cryptocurrencies as it did not quite enjoy the status of a global financial center that Singapore and Hong Kong continue to burnish.
In many ways, Singapore has a lot more to lose should things go wrong on its bets when it comes to cryptocurrencies, and even government-owned DBS Bank has walked back plans to offer cryptocurrencies to retail investors that had initially been tabled for the end of this year.
A primary concern for existing financial centers of course is money laundering, and Dubai’s enthusiastic embrace of cryptocurrencies has raised alarm with the Financial Action Task Force, a global money laundering watchdog, which has placed the United Arab Emirates on its “gray list” of countries where enhanced monitoring procedures to prevent the illicit flow of monies is required.
Undeterred, Dubai has rolled out the red carpet to cryptocurrency companies, especially exchanges which provide good and well-paying jobs, as well as attracts the high-skilled workers that Dubai’s economy thrives on.
FTX Europe, the Swiss-based arm of the cryptocurrency exchange said last month it would establish a regional headquarters in Dubai after being granted a license to operate there.
Singapore-headquartered Crypto.com that renamed the famous Staples Center in Los Angeles, added an office in Dubai last week to serve as its Middle East base, but if things tighten further in Singapore, could soon become its global headquarters.
The biggest “whale” in the cryptocurrency exchange arena Binance has chosen to call Dubai home, where it already has about 200 staff spread across three offices in the city.