Dubai has become the go-to place for disruptive tech, says Belal Jassoma

Category: AI Crypto Events GCC
Posted by Katy

Dubai has emerged as the ultimate destination for crypto business, says Belal Jassoma, Director of Ecosystems at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) . In his keynote at the AIBC conference taking place in Dubai today, he shares his perspectives on why the emirate has become the go-to place for disruptive tech as the UAE looks to diversify from fossil fuels and focus more on developing a knowledge based economy.

Dubai’s strategic positioning as a global business hub and gateway to the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia has attracted businesses seeking access to a vast portion of the world’s wealth and opportunities. The city’s geographic advantage, with four to eight hours of flight time to emerging and developed markets, coupled with a well-connected time zone, makes it an ideal location for crypto enterprises.

Beyond its geographical advantages, Dubai has consistently excelled in economic competitiveness, ease of doing business, and providing a high-quality living environment. Its cosmopolitan nature, hosting a diverse international community, further adds to its appeal as a thriving crypto business hub.

“Due to the developing regulatory landscape, the regulators have really caught on now and ramped up the approvals. And that has also attracted more interest from the institutional investors.” 

As the crypto adoption index illustrates, Dubai has surpassed other cities, solidifying its status as a global destination for crypto-related events. The region has seen a surge in interest, investments, and the establishment of a significant Web3 presence, particularly in free zones like DMCC.

Moving towards a knowledge-based economy

“Dubai and the UAE have a vision that really supports disruptive technology in terms of crypto and Web3, of course, but also gaming. Gaming is on the national agenda as we look to diversify from fossil fuels and focus more on developing a knowledge-based economy and AI.”

Despite these successes, Bilal acknowledged some challenges faced by the local crypto industry. Issues such as limited banking support due to perceived high risks and the need for specialized talent are hurdles that the industry is actively addressing.

“A lot more retailers are accepting crypto payments, and you hear more of real world assets tokenization that is happening in our ecosystem as well as the wider UAE.”

He goes on to say that while banks haven’t had the Biggest appetite in opening accounts for crypto businesses – mostly because of their risk appetite –  that he believes that that is changing as more regulations go online and more companies get regulatory licenses. “Banks will open up more as we go forward.”

DMCC, established in 2002, has played a crucial role in fostering the crypto ecosystem. The Crypto Center, initiated in 2021, offers businesses more than just a physical space. Membership includes a desk or office space, along with essential regulatory support, licenses, and visas. However, the real value lies in the community and ecosystem, providing ongoing mentorship, acceleration, innovation, funding, and advisory services.

The DMCC Crypto Center has formed strategic partnerships with industry leaders like Bybit, Brink, Tidify, Solana, Anchor, Boba, DWF Labs, and GAF Capital, fostering a collaborative environment for Web3 businesses.

However, he concludes, none of this would be possible without the support of the regulators. 

“We have a strong relationship with Vara and the Securities and Commodities Authority.”

During the speech, Bilal also highlighted the range of business activities permissible at the Crypto Center, showcasing its flexibility in accommodating various aspects of the crypto industry. Currently hosting nearly 600 Web3 companies, DMCC Crypto Center stands as the largest concentration of such businesses in the region.

As Bilal wrapped up his presentation, questions from the audience, including one from Nova Phoenix of Lyfeblood Social Media DAO in New York City, highlighted the growing interest in bridging the gap between American and Dubai-based Web3 communities. The DMCC Crypto Center aims to continue its role as a facilitator, creating opportunities and connections between these thriving ecosystems.

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