• Dubai revealed its first cryptocurrency legislation proposal last week
  • Competing exchange FTX was also recently granted a license to operate in the region

Binance was granted a virtual asset license by Dubai’s regulator as the crypto exchange seeks to expand further in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). 

Under the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA), Binance will be allowed to offer limited exchange products and services to pre-qualified investors and professional financial service providers, the company announced Wednesday.

VARA will monitor its licensed service providers to determine if they may open to the retail market.

Changpeng Zhao, founder and CEO of Binance, called Dubai a “progressive regime” targeting uncompromised governance and market security.

“The collaborative way in which Binance has been engaged to bring proven industry compliance-leading experience to the Dubai ecosystem is indicative of the unique operating model that the VARA is creating for the global industry,” he said in a statement.

The company is hiring engineers, as well as roles in sales, compliance, human relations and talent acquisition in the UAE, job postings on Binance’s website indicate.

A Binance spokesperson did not immediately return a request for comment. 

Binance’s move into Dubai comes after the emirate last week revealed its first cryptocurrency legislation, overseen by a new regulatory agency. The 56-page proposal, released by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), focuses on “crypto tokens,” but excludes non-fungible tokens (NFTs), central bank digital currencies (CBDCs) and utility tokens.

“The new VARA is symbolic of Dubai’s confidence in the potential of this future economy driver — if introduced with prudence and legitimacy,” Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai World Trade Centre Authority, said in a statement. “To this end, our regime is structured to catalyze collaboration, foster innovation and most critically secure public interest.”

Crypto exchange FTX was granted a license to operate within the emirate, Bloomberg reported Monday, and the company will now seek to establish a regional headquarters in the city of Dubai.

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  • Ben Strack is a Denver-based reporter covering macro and crypto-native funds, financial advisors, structured products, and the integration of digital assets and decentralized finance (DeFi) into traditional finance. Prior to joining Blockworks, he covered the asset management industry for Fund Intelligence and was a reporter and editor for various local newspapers on Long Island. He graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in journalism. Contact Ben via email at [email protected]