Dubai Free Zone Now Home to More Than 500 Crypto Startups

In Dubai, a dedicated hub for local crypto entrepreneurs attracted twice as many digital asset startups last year than in 2021

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Dubai says it has now attracted more than 500 crypto companies to the wealthy Middle Eastern city’s budding digital asset ecosystem.

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) said Monday it registered around 3,000 new businesses last year, representing a 23% jump from 2021.

Of those, 343 were digital asset startups joining DMCC’s “Crypto Center,” the group told Blockworks, which would mean around 150 crypto-related startups were added in 2021.

The DMCC is the city’s flagship free zone which gives tax breaks and other benefits to startups. It launched a crypto hub in 2021, located in a 68-storey skyscraper in the Jumeirah Lake Towers area of Dubai. 

The center is meant to serve as a coworking and networking space for entrepreneurs in the crypto and blockchain sectors.

While crypto technically falls under the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) purview, the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) — a UAE federal agency — is also responsible for some oversight of the digital asset industry.

“Backed by a strong regional macroeconomic landscape, DMCC has been efficiently accelerating its growth strategy throughout 2022, focusing on supporting its member companies in high-impact sectors such as Web3 and blockchain technologies, commodities and global trade,” said DMCC CEO Ahmed Bin Sulayem.

A number of crypto firms began setting up in the UAE last year to take advantage of the region’s ambitions to thrive as a crypto hub. 

Major crypto companies with provisional licenses, such as Binance and Crypto.com, haven’t opted to join the DMCC per its member directory. But the DMCC highlighted a number of metaverse-centric startups on its member list.

Despite the promotion and supposed ease of setting up there, some have found their entrepreneurial journeys complicated as the due diligence process can be taxing.

The center reportedly partnered with Hong Kong-headquarterd venture capital firm Brinc last October. Brinc said it would offer potential funding opportunities to DMCC crypto startups through its $150 million accelerator vehicle.


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