Chainalysis has completed its MENA section of its 2023 Geography of Cryptocurrency Report which will be out soon. In the report the MENA region is the 6th largest crypto economy of any region in 2023. There was an estimated $389.8 billion in on-chain value received between July 2022 and June 2023. This represents nearly 7.2% of global transaction volume during the period studied. However it is much lower that what was received in July 2021-July 2022.

MENA based crypto users had received $566 billion worth of cryptocurrency in one year from July 2021 to June 2022 which at that time was a 48 percent increase from 2020-2021.

MENA is also home to three of the top 30 countries in this year’s index: Turkey (12), Morocco (20), and Iran (28). However, Turkey dominates in terms of raw transaction volume, but interestingly Saudi Arabia comes in third in terms of crypto value received, with UAE coming in at number two and Turkey taking number one place.

Centralized exchanges and DeFi were the top services for receiving crypto value in the MENA region, with UAE receiving much higher share of crypto activity on DeFi protocols compared to other countries in MENA. In addition UAE crypto services were split almost equally between centralized exchanges and decentralized exchanges, while in KSA for example 48.6%went to centralized exchanges and 38.8% to decentralized exchanges.

According to the report no country has witnessed the growth of crypto transaction volume like Saudi Arabia has. KSA has witnessed year-over-year transaction volume growth of 12.0%. In fact, Saudi Arabia is one of only six countries to see any year-over-year transaction volume growth during the time period studied.

Chainalysis found that the crypto value received by the UAE was over US$34.9billion representing a decrease of 17% over the previous year. In Qatar there was a 26% decline, Oman 49% decline, Jordan 55% decline, and Lebanon 96% decline.

One of the most interesting findings was in the UAE where the majority of crypto transactions were for institutional investors. 67% of crypto transactions valued over $1 million were by institutional investors, while retail investors (up to $10,000) accounted for just 4.63%

“The fact that by far the larger portion of crypto investments in the UAE is for institutional and professional sized transactions, indicates an eagerness from organisations and high-net-worth individuals to add cryptocurrency to their investment portfolios. This market confidence is validation of the efforts being made by the country’s leadership to offer commendable regulatory clarity, and establish the nation as a global crypto hub,” said Kim Grauer, Director of Research at Chainalysis.