Dubai adopts first virtual asset law, establishes regulator

2 minute read

Prime Minister and Vice-President of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum attends the Global Women's Forum in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, February 16, 2020. REUTERS/Christopher Pike

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DUBAI, March 9 (Reuters) - The emirate of Dubai has adopted its first law governing virtual assets and established a regulator to oversee the sector, its ruler Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid said on Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven emirates and the region's financial capital, has been pushing to develop virtual asset regulation to attract new forms of business as regional economic competition heats up.

Virtual assets generally encompass products including crypto currencies and NFTs, but the announcement did not specify which assets would come under the new law.

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The Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law aims to position Dubai and the UAE as a regional and global destination for the virtual assets sector, Sheikh Mohammed said in a statement carried by state media.

The Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority will oversee the development of the business environment for virtual assets in terms of regulation, licensing and governance, he said.

The new law will apply throughout Dubai except for the state-owned financial free zone DIFC. DIFC's regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), is working on its own regulation for the virtual asset sector.

In October, DFSA released the first part which governs digital tokens, and this week launched a consultation on regulation for crypto tokens, which includes crypto currencies.

The UAE as a whole is getting closer to issuing virtual asset investment regulation, the UAE's Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) said on Tuesday.

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Reporting by Lilian Wagdy; Writing by Nadine Awadalla and Lisa Barrington; Editing by Jon Boyle and Bernadette Baum

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