Crypto to play ‘major role’ in UAE trade: foreign trade Minister

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Crypto will play an “important role” in the United Arab Emirates’ global business going forward, says UAE Foreign Minister Thani Al-Zeyoudi.

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

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Minister Thani Al-Zeyoudi: Bloomberg

Commenting on the crypto sector, the minister stated that “crypto will play an important role for the business of the UAE going forward”, as he described that “the most important thing is that we ensure global governance when it comes to 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 making the Gulf country a hub with crypto-friendly policies that also have sufficient safeguards in place:

“We started to attract some of the companies to the country with the goal that we build together the right administration and legal system that is needed.”

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

If companies fail to do so, they will face fines of up to $2.7 million under the new law. The move adds to the “Guiding Principles” for regulation and supervision of digital assets, which were published by the financial regulator of the Global Market free economic zone of Abu Dhabi in September.

The principles outline a friendly attitude towards crypto while also promising to meet international standards in Anti-Money Laundering (AML), combating the financing of terrorism (CFT) and supporting financial sanctions.

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

To Olama noted that while the failure of FTX was a major concern, the UAE still wants to be a center despite all the ordeal.

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

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

The minister also distanced the UAE from claims that its cities such as Dubai tend to become key places for disgraced crypto figures to flee, arguing that “bad actors have no nationality and no destination.”

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

“You’ll see them everywhere. You’ll see them in the Bahamas, you’ll see them in New York, London, and what we have to do as governments is to work together, also with the industry, to make sure that if someone does something wrong, they can’t move. from one place to another,” he said.