The Mena region received over $271 billion worth of crypto between July 2020 and June 2021

Published: Sat 23 Jul 2022, 4:20 PM

Last update: Sat 23 Jul 2022, 4:21 PM

The UAE is emerging as a global cryptocurrency hub, said a senior official at Kraken, one of the world’s largest digital asset exchanges.

In April this year, Kraken became the first global cryptocurrency exchange to receive a full license to operate a regulated virtual asset exchange platform on the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM). Earlier this week, Kraken and RAKBank announced that UAE residents will soon be able to trade virtual assets in dirham using their local bank accounts.

Benjamin Ampen, Managing Director of Kraken Mena, pointed out that cryptocurrency adoption in the UAE is growing rapidly.

“With Kraken, investors in the United Arab Emirates and the wider Mena region will, for the first time, be able to participate and invest in the crypto market in a safer, more secure, more efficient and at a lower cost via a fiat dirham gateway.”

The UAE is the third largest country in the world in terms of crypto adoption with 35% already owning some form of cryptocurrency, according to a Gemini survey.

“Being able to invest directly in crypto, and fund and withdraw from their Kraken account directly in dirham, regional investors and institutions can benefit from a frictionless trading experience and much broader access to the crypto market.”

According to Chainalysis ‘The 2021 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report’, the Middle East received $271.7 billion in cryptocurrency between July 2020 and June 2021, representing 6.6% of global activity. The United Arab Emirates, with transactions of $25.5 billion, was third behind Turkey and Lebanon.

Ampen noted that dirham-denominated trading would increase trading volumes in the UAE.

“The Middle East is one of the fastest growing cryptocurrency markets in the world. Clients in the UAE are already using Kraken to transact well over $1 billion in trading volume, and this without a direct acceleration. Dirham trading pairs will allow Kraken to tap directly into the liquid capital markets of the UAE, creating strong potential to see a significant increase in trading volume.”

Ampen said ADGM, a robust financial services center, is an ideal and indispensable partner.

“Kraken was thrilled to partner with ADGM, which has been instrumental in realizing our vision of bringing crypto dirham trading to life in the UAE. The regulatory momentum in the region has been very progressive, visionary and forward-looking, characterized by the ADGM Virtual Assets Framework, which continues to drive adoption and innovation in emerging technology-enabled investment strategies.We were privileged to receive a such support and approval from them.


Ampen pointed out that progressive regulatory reform, legislative action, and technological innovation put the UAE in a strong position to lead the crypto market.

“The UAE’s crypto strategy is ambitious and compelling, but moving at high speed. By bringing a first to the region by enabling investors to access crypto trading directly in dirham, we want to help grow the business , adoption, investment flows, and awareness of the UAE’s status as a rapidly emerging global crypto market.”

Ampen added that Kraken wants to be a trusted partner of the UAE.

“This is an exciting opportunity for us to accelerate the adoption of cryptocurrencies in such a high potential region. We strongly believe that our proposal aligns with national interests and can help support the region’s vision. .”