Bitcoin Adoption in Dubai

Dubai, known for the tallest building, man made structure and free standing structure – Burj Khalifa, the world’s only 7-star hotel – Burj Al Arab, and the second-largest yacht in the world “Dubai” which is owned by the sheikh. Dubai is going full steam ahead to position themselves as a Blockchain hub and centre of FinTech innovation starting with the launch of Dubai Smart City early in 2014.  

When Dubai does things, we tend to do it right.  It is true that we want to do it first, but we do it right as well.” says Saif Al Aleeli, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation

The strategy of Smart Dubai is Our revolutionary approach to smart city transformation places happiness, not technology, at the core of our strategy.”

“The Smart Dubai initiative structures its end-goals across a carefully crafted set of strategic pillars. These are Efficient, Seamless, Safe and Impactful.  We envision a city where all its resources are optimised for maximum efficiency, where services are integrated seamlessly into daily life, where we protect both our people and information — creating the most enriched life and business experience possible for all.  Dubai will become the innovation benchmark for smart cities seeking global sustainability and competitiveness.”

Read more about Dubai’s Blockchain strategy here 

Smart phones are a key pivot and the UAE tops the world in Smart Phone penetration.

Following Smart Dubai, was the launch of the Museum of the Future in 2015, a $136M Museum full of robots and inventors – expected opening during 2018.

Shaping the future, Sheikh Mohammed launches Dubai’s Dh1 billion fund in 2016.

The Dubai Accelerator which is backed by the government is on the hunt for global talent and innovation.  The UAE government organized the largest virtual blockchain hackathon in history to push the limits of what’s possible using the blockchain – Prize money of $140,000.  A startup building an ethereum-based platform for IoT applications has won $100,000 at a blockchain hackathon in Dubai.  Title Deed Solution Leverages Ethereum Blockchain to Secure Top Finish in Dubai Hackathon.

Dubai is looking for startups to take part in a new blockchain contest, with prizes of up to $20,000 for the winning projects.  Will your start up company be one of the 20 selected?

A line in the sand has been drawn, Dubai to use blockchain technology for all government documents by 2020.

A logistics initiative, IBM and Dubai’s Government Launches Blockchain Trade Finance Trial – Dubai Customs and Dubai Trade, an electronic trade services hub operated by the government, are assisting to drive this initiative.

The World Blockchain Forum Returns to Dubai in March 2017 – Keynote 2017 speakers and agenda.  See the projects tabled in 2016 here –  Dubai, the Bitcoin and Blockchain destination.  

Mobile Telco Du Reveals New Blockchain Healthcare Partnership securing health records on a blockchain.  “We are thrilled to be partnering with du to bring blockchain technology to UAE. Guardtime will leverage on its expertise as its blockchain technology has been in production for many years in Estonia delivering security and efficiency to health-care services. We would like to thank du and NMC Healthcare for this opportunity.” Mike Gault, CEO of Guardtime – expected deliver of Proof of Concept due early 2018

Loyyal has entered into a contract with Dubai Holding which part of the Dubai Future Accelerators program, supported by the UAE Government.

BitOasis, the first Bitcoin exchange was launched May 2016.  “The UAE specifically serves as a gateway to the Middle East, but it’s a big outbound remittance market with corridors to India, Philippines, Thailand, Kenya and other countries. It’s a connection between different countries and different markets and we see a big opportunity for bitcoin.” Co-founder Ola Doudin.

Bitcoin Exempt from UAE Central Bank’s Ban on Virtual Currencies – On 1 January 2017, the Central Bank of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) published a new framework covering digital payments in the country.

In terms of Regulation, the UAE are considering to officially recognize Bitcoin and are working on a Regulatory Framework.

Towards the end of 2016, the largest bank in Dubai, Emirates NBD ENBD.DU, partnered with India’s ICICI Bank on a remittance pilot based on distributed ledger protocols.

Interesting to note regarding Remittances – UAE is fourth top remittance-sender as reported by the World Bank – India being the country to receive most remittances from the UAE.

LocalBitcoins, an Over The Counter (OTP) global platform that is active in Dubai – find a buyer or a seller near you.  Here is the volume traded over the platform.  A bit of a volume spike around April 2016, however, many Bitcoins are exchanged peer to peer vs from an exchange or OTP which means the traded volume is much higher than indicated below.




Here’s to the future – Dubai Looks To Introduce Unpiloted Drone Taxis Shortly



Living in Dubai, you can meet up with various groups – click here to find one that interests you.  Get your Smart phone ready… see you in Dubai!



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