The widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies in the UAE can be attributed to strategic decisions made at the state level and the country’s commitment to innovation and technology adoption.

The UAE is leading the world in finally pushing widespread adoption of cryptocurrencies beyond the financial sector, with the government’s industry-friendly regulatory policies taking structured shape, leading to real-world use cases of the digital currency permeating fast into diverse sectors including telecom and gaming, industry experts said.

Companies are stepping up their efforts to further fuel the growth, offering more and more use cases to make digital currency adoption more inclusive and accessible in more industries without disrupting the traditional systems, riding on the current upswing in crypto ownership in the country, estimated at 27 percent of the country’s population.

“With regulations taking a structured shape, cryptocurrencies are finally finding value in several real-world use cases in diverse industries in the UAE,” Sergey Sheleg, Chief Product Officer at eSIM Plus, a virtual sim provider, operating globally, told Arabian Business.

“One such example is as a payment option for basic telecom access, something we are seeing among a significant section of consumers in countries like the UAE,” he said.

Sheleg said the widespread ownership of cryptocurrencies in all major economies is a validation of growing investor trust in today’s regulatory environment in the UAE.

He, however, said while this uptick is good news, the onus remains on all stakeholders to ensure crypto adoption is more inclusive, covering the entire spectrum of traditional and emerging sectors.

Sergey Sheleg, Chief Product Officer at eSIM Plus

UAE population actively involved in crypto industry

Dr Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO), the only common law free zone in the world solely dedicated to non-regulated digital and virtual asset companies, said the UAE population is currently actively involved in the crypto industry.

“RAK DAO is excited to see 27.67 percent of the UAE population actively involved in cryptocurrencies,” Al Ansari told Arabian Business.

He said the latest statistic highlights the transformative shift towards digital assets and investments, positioning them as a formidable force shaping the dynamic landscape of the UAE.

Dr Sameer Al Ansari, CEO of RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO)

Phillip Lord, President of Oobit, a crypto payments app, and co-founder of Pimlico Partners Middle East, said the upswing in crypto owners underscores the immense potential of digital currencies.

“Companies are stepping up, adopting an approach that integrates the benefits of cryptocurrency and Web3 without disrupting the traditional system. This cultivates a more inclusive and accessible financial landscape, expediting cryptocurrency’s widespread adoption and further growth,” Lord told Arabian Business.

“The key insight is to empower individuals to seamlessly use their crypto holdings for everyday transactions without altering the familiar system,” he said.

“For instance, at Oobit, we optimise the existing contactless payment infrastructure with additional advantages,” Lord said.

Bill Qian, Chairman of Cypher Capital, a venture capital firm based in the UAE focused on crypto, blockchain, and digital asset-related projects worldwide, said besides the UAE, the GCC region is also currently experiencing a remarkable uptick in crypto investment.

“This is buoyed by the regulatory landscape exceptionally friendly to digital assets,” Qian told Arabian Business.

Gaming industry sees surge in digital currency adption

Industry experts said the gaming industry in the UAE – and also in the wider region – is one of the major beneficiaries of the surging and widespread adoption of digital currencies.

Mohsin Waqar, CEO of Senet System, a ‘skill to earn’ web3 gaming platform with significant influence in the Middle East, said the surge in crypto adoption – signalling a transformation beyond finance is fast permeating into diverse industries, notably gaming.

“The launch of the ‘Dubai Program for Gaming 2033’ by Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum last month, is a clear testament to the visionary convergence of technology and innovation – an initiative that may ultimately position Dubai as a premier crypto hub and global gaming powerhouse,” Waqar told Arabian Business.

He said the existing prevalence of regulatory bodies in the region, such as the Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is also playing a crucial role in establishing and implementing regulation as well as the GCC’s geo-locations as a thriving business hub with a keen interest in shifting towards smart city schematics.

“The recent data that suggests over 27 percent of the UAE population is actively involved in the crypto industry reflects a profound shift in how individuals perceive and engage with digital and financial assets,” Waqar said.

Bundeep Rangar, CEO of Fineqia, a publicly listed Canadian company giving investors exposure to a diversified portfolio of crypto-related investment opportunities, told Arabian Business the widespread adoption of cryptocurrency in the UAE can be attributed to the strategic decisions made at the state level.

“Reflecting a progressive and forward-looking approach, the UAE government has articulated its ambition to position the nation a decade ahead of the rest of the world’ in terms of innovation and technology adoption,” Rangar said.

“This commitment to staying at the forefront of technological advancements aligns with the UAE’s economic openness and favourable tax policies, creating an environment conducive to the seamless integration of cryptocurrencies into the financial ecosystem,” he said.