Sharia-compliant CoinMENA bags third crypto licence from UAE

abdelaziz Fathi

CoinMENA, a cryptocurrency exchange headquartered in Bahrain, has received provisional approval from Dubai’s local regulator to set up its business operations in the UAE whilst it undertakes the process of applying for a full-scale license.

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The move is the latest in a string of approvals secured by top crypto platforms as Dubai pushes to become the regional hub for the digital asset sector. In separate announcements, Crypto.com, FTX Europe, Bybit and Binance had received similar licenses to expand into the UAE.

The in-principal approval allows CoinMENA to conduct a spectrum of virtual assets business under the initial regulatory phase of the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA). This includes offering exchange products and services to pre-qualified investors and professional financial service providers under strict oversight and mandatory FATF compliance controls.

To get access to the retail market, CoinMENA will be progressively monitored in stages alongside all licensed VARA service providers.

CoinMENA already bags two crypto licenses, which were acquired within its first year of operations. The first approval was from the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) and the second in the European Union. The provisional license from VARA would be the third license and will enable the Sharia-compliant platform to offer its products and services to institutional investors in the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA, countries — including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Oman.

Notably, the UAE was the first global economy to have set up a specialised regulator for the virtual asset sector. Announced by the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, the emirate has enacted its first law governing cryptocurrency activities, and it has also formed an independent regulator to supervise the sector.

Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General of the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, that houses VARA said, “We are pleased to welcome CoinMENA to the growing virtual asset ecosystem in Dubai. VARA is committed to supporting leading regional enterprises dedicated to building strong foundations for this future economy. We appreciate the knowledge and experience that CoinMENA brings as a platform focused on the MENA region and look forward to their active participation as VARA builds a best-in-class virtual assets regulatory environment in the UAE, for the world.”

Commenting in a joint statement, CoinMENA Co-Founders Talal Tabbaa and Dina Sam’an said: “VARA has developed a progressive framework within which businesses can work innovatively and securely. As a result of the provisional license issued to CoinMENA by the authority, we will be able to expand our activities and further strengthen our banking relationships within the UAE.”

“We are excited about what this means for the region and CoinMENA. Thanks to the regulatory clarity provided by VARA, all of the leading crypto companies in the world are either already in Dubai or are planning to move there.” Tabbaa said, “We look forward to working with VARA to build a progressive ecosystem that enables users to have safe exposure to the emerging digital assets class.”

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