It s no surprise that global crypto exchanges are flocking to the UAE, first it was Binance, then Kraken which left, then, coinbase, and now the second biggest global exchange OKX.

OKX announced unilaterally that it had received a minimal viable Preparatory license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority (VARA). In 2022 OKX had received its provisional license and opened offices at the Dubai World Trade Centre. 

In the announcement they stressed that the UAE is a key strategic growth and business hub for OKX global with the company planning ot hire 30 staff locals and senior management.

OKX also added that it plans to extend its nine-figure brand partnerships to the UAE with customer and fan-focused activations and activities.

As per the announcement, once licensed to be operational, OKX Middle East will be able to extend its approved suite of duly regulated virtual assets activities and will provide spot, derivatives, and fiat services, including USD and AED deposits, withdrawals and spot-pairs, to institutional and qualified retail customers.

OKX Global Chief Commercial Officer Lennix Lai said, “We’re thrilled to receive the MVP preparatory licence from VARA. Regulated entities are the future of digital assets and capital markets and Dubai and VARA have succeeded in creating a unique environment where VASPs can thrive. With the expansion into a new office this year, we are focused on hiring local staff and senior management. The MENA region has incredible potential as a centre of excellence for Web3 and virtual assets, we look forward to the opportunity to expand the already growing ecosystem across the region.”

OKX Chief Marketing Officer Haider Rafique  added “We’ve been waiting to enter the UAE and we want people here to experience our products first hand. We’re different – we do things in a measured and transparent manner. May was our seventh consecutive month of publishing our proof of reserves, making us the only crypto exchange globally with that commitment. This attitude is consistent with the brand partners who represent us, Manchester City Football Club, McLaren Racing, and the Tribeca Festival. We take our time, and do things the right way.”

But on VARA’s website OKX is not listed in its public register, while, Binance, and BitOasis are. This is despite the fact that both and Binance have the same license approval as OKX.

This is not the first crypto exchange or virtual asset service provider to unilaterally announce they have received a license yet have never been put on VARA’s public register. Examples include, AquanowMaskex crypto exchange, Fasset tokenized assets exchange, and many others.

The question that is puzzling is why? Why put some names and not others, why highlight some companies in VARA press releases, like for example BitOasis,, GCEX, Enjinstarter, Binance, Hextrust, , but not Maskex, OKX and many more?

It might seem to be a small discrepancy, but to those who look at the VARA website as a legitimate source for knowing the status of VASP entities regulated in Dubai, it is a significant slip-up or maybe not!

As an update to this article, OKX has now been listed on VARA’s registry page on its website, still waiting to see Maskex, Aquanow and others