Crypto will play ‘major role’ in UAE trade: foreign trade minister

Crypto will play a “major role” in the future of UAE global trade, said UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Al-Zeyoudi.

Speaking to Bloomberg on January 20 in Davos, Switzerland – where world leaders are currently meeting for the World Economic Forum 2023 — Al-Zeyoudi provided a host of updates regarding the UAE’s business partnerships and policies for 2023.

Minister Thani Al-Zeyoudi: Bloomberg

Commenting on the crypto sector, the Minister said that “Crypto will play a major role for UAE commerce in the future” as he emphasized that “the most important thing is that we provide global governance regarding cryptocurrencies and crypto companies”.

Al-Zeyoudi went on to suggest that as the UAE works on its crypto regulatory regime, the focus will be on Gulf countries a hub with crypto-friendly policies that also have enough protections in place:

“We have started to attract some of the companies to the country with the aim of building together the good governance and the good legal system, which is necessary.”

Al-Zeyoudi’s comments come just a week after the UAE Cabinet introduced new regulations that essentially ensure that entities engaged in crypto activities must obtain a license and approval from the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA).

If companies fail to do so, they face fines of up to $2.7 million. under the new law. This decision is in addition to the “guiding principles” for regulation and supervision of digital assets which were released by the financial regulator of the Abu Dhabi Global Market Free Economic Zone in September.

The Principles outline a friendly stance toward crypto while committing to comply with international standards for anti-money laundering (AML), countering the financing of terrorism (CFT), and financial sanctions support .

UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence and Digital Economy Omar Sultan Al Olama also appeared at the World Economic Forum as part of a crypto-focused panel on January 19.

Al Olama Noted that while the FTX debacle was a major concern, the UAE still wants to be a hub despite all the ordeal.

“Their [crypto companies] calling the UAE home is definitely a positive thing,” he said.

Related: Abu Dhabi-based Venom Foundation launches $1 billion fund for Web3 and blockchain

The minister also distanced the UAE from claims that its cities like Dubai tend to become key places to leak disgraced crypto figures, arguing that “bad actors don’t have nationalities and don’t have destination”.

He stressed, however, that governments must work together to prevent bad actors from going abroad.

“You will see them everywhere. You’ll see them in the Bahamas, you’ll see them in New York, in London, and what we need to do as governments is work together, with industry as well, to make sure that if somebody does something wrong, he won’t be able to move from place to place,” he said.