By: Lara Abdul Malak, Editor In Chief UNLOCK with additional content by Hadi Khatib, AMEinfo Deputy Editor
2019 seems to be the year that the MENA region starts to embrace Blockchain, cryptocurrencies, Security token offerings and even Bitcoin luxury watches.
Since May for example, ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) has provided three crypto exchanges with preliminary approvals to operate. Bitoasis was the first to announce its approval in May, followed by ABX Crypto early June and recently, DEX crypto asset exchange also received approval. It also seems that KRAKEN one of the first crypto exchanges to be launched globally is setting up office in the UAE.
We also have seen big conglomerates like Emaar embrace the digital asset scene. News came out that Emaar is preparing to launch its Security token offering. Tzero was in discussion with them.
Emaar: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, UAE, could also be the first to have its own cryptocurrency. UAE property developer, Emaar Group, who own Burj Khalifa, partnered with Swiss startup Lykke AG to develop and launch a community token. An initial coin offering (ICO) will be considered in Europe within 12 months of the internal operational launch of the platform, it was recently reported.
Even UAE Based Locuschain announced that it would be listing its token on Latoken soon. ME azfundchain held its first Initial Exchange offering on Stexcom and UAE Emal raised $185 million from its token sale.
We also see more telco operators embrace blockchain by providing Blockchain as a service (BaaS) solutions to enterprises and governmental entities. Etisalat announced UAE Trade Connect project with UAE Banks as well as its partnership with Dubai Land Department to offer Blockchain Tejari platform as a service. In addition Du-telecom is building two blockchain as service offerings in collaboration with ConsenSys.
Liechtenstein-based blockchain investment fund company INVAO has taken a strategic decision to move their operation to the UAE following strong backings from local partners.
Ahmed Jacob, Managing Partner and CTO of INVAO recently said: “Dubai is doing great work at embracing blockchain investments as a leading emerging technology. With such a diverse and international community, the Middle Eastern region is ready to invest in blockchain technology.”
The same momentum is growing in KSA ad Turkey. Saudi Aramco investment subsidiary has invested in a Blockchain company that works with oil and gas industry. Turkey has launched its national Blockchain platform.
Even the luxury scene in the GCC region is seeing the effects of the crypto hype with Franck Muller launching the first Bitcoin watch in the UAE.
UNLOCK is inviting startups from around the globe and the region to participate in the UNLOCK Blockchain Challenge that will be held in UNLOCK Blockchain forum 2020 on Jan 28th -29th 2020. If interested in being part of the challenge please send an email to [email protected].