UAE based MintLayer, a layer 2 blockchain that utilizes Dynamic Slot Allocation (DSA) consensus merging Proof-Of-Stake and Bitcoin technologies to make decentralized financial markets attack-proof,  will be launching its mainnet on January 29th 2024 and is planning tokenize real-estate assets starting from Dubai UAE.

Already MintLayer has received investments from a substantial number of venture capitalists including some residing in the UAE such as Phoenix crypto VC, Sheesha Finance, Varys Capital and others.

Zaid Ismail Chief Operations officer at MintLayer, based out of Dubai UAE, on LinkedIn states,“ 90% of the world’s millionaires made their fortunes through real estate, but it’s highly inaccessible, illiquid, and complicated – that’s where MintLayer comes in! Starting with Dubai, we are on a mission to fractionalize real estate ownership one country at a time.”

In an interview on Bitcoin News, he discussed how tokenized real-world assets are an appealing portfolio for modern investors.

He told Bitcoin News that despite recently garnering much of the world’s attention, traditional exchange-traded funds (ETFs), including spot Bitcoin ETFs, are still inferior to tokenized real-world assets (RWA).

He added,” Tokenized RWAs also come with increased transparency, reduced costs, and direct ownership making them a more versatile and appealing choice for modern investors seeking portfolio diversification.”

He notes in the interview that traditional finance institutions are also starting to get involved in tokenized RWAs. They are testing the waters and will need to work with regulators to adapt existing regulations to the changing landscape.

Ismail emphasizes that with MintLayer the process is simplified, reducing hassles for asset owners. With MintLayer, tokenization is embedded and simple, so non-technical users can issue tokens easily without having to use deployment contracts like on Ethereum.

Additionally, Mintlayer Institutional is building a SaaS platform for institutional clients that will help to simplify the process of issuing, monitoring and dealing with all the compliance aspects required for tokenization.

The MintLayer network, and its UTXO infrastructure, allows batching multiple transactions into a single one, saving space and lowering the fees. Furthermore, their HTLC smart contract embedded in MintLayer will allow atomic swaps and lightning network integration, allowing a way to route transactions on a peer-to-peer network that doesn’t require it to be permanently saved forever on the blockchain.

Mintlayer has a  low node requirements are pivotal in fostering a more inclusive and decentralized network allowing anyone with a standard PC, or even a Raspberry Pi, can run a node is a testament to the democratization of blockchain technology.

UAE and Bahrain regulated crypto exchange CoinMENA expands its family office, investor and institutional offering through a partnership with Onramp Bitcoin. Onramp is an international Bitcoin asset management company built on multi institutional custody.

Onramp’s platform provides best-in-class products and solutions for HNWI, Family Offices, and Institutions to onboard Bitcoin.

In addition the partnership aims to empower MENA investors with high-quality Bitcoin educational resources such as proprietary written research, rich video content and analytic tools.

Both companies are poised to explore innovative custody solutions designed specifically for institutional investors. The collaboration comes on the heels of Onramp’s recent announcement of a partnership with BitGo, CoinMENA’s current custody partner.

In a joint statement, CoinMENA’s founders, Talal Tabbaa and Dina Sam’an said, “We are excited because this partnership fills a market gap for premium Bitcoin market research, and aligns with our educational approach to empower regional investors to invest in Bitcoin based on sound logic and a deep understanding of its unique and fundamental properties. As Bitcoin evolves into a mainstream international asset class, providing insightful analysis becomes essential for investors and asset managers, guiding them in making confident, long-term investment decisions.”

Onramp Co-Founder and CEO Michael Tanguma added “Onramp recognizes that Bitcoin is a global asset, necessitating the broad dissemination of valuable Bitcoin-focused educational resources across the world – research, podcasts, webinars, data-driven tools like the Onramp Terminal – access to these types of high-quality materials, combined with a first principles approach to custody, is the recipe for successful long-term Bitcoin ownership. We are excited to partner with the team to provide tools and education to one of the fastest-growing regions in the digital asset space.”

This comes just after the USA regulators allowed the launch of Bitcoin ETFs.

UAE Phoenix Blockchain, crypto mining group has purchased a total of $567 million of Bitcoin mining Hardware. The group made a new Bitcoin mining hardware purchase of $187 million from Bitmain, just a few months after it purchased $380 million worth of crypto mining hardware from Whatsminer.

Prior to this Phoenix Group invested in Lyvely, a UAE-based platform poised to reshape how creators and consumers interact and monetize online acquiring 25% of the company.

The landmark purchase worth $187 million is for cutting-edge mining machines from industry giant Bitmain. This strategic acquisition comes just after its IPO on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX).

“This latest deal, following our successful IPO and partnerships, signals our relentless pursuit of excellence and solidifies our leadership in this dynamic space,” declared Bijan Alizadehfard, Co-Founder & Group CEO of Phoenix Group. “Partnering with titans like Bitmain and Whatsminer equips us with the best tech, fuels our growth, and redefines the future of efficient and sustainable mining.”

Phoenic Group has a  market cap of $3.95 billion as of January 4th, 2024, the Bitmain deal further amplifies Phoenix Group’s hashing power and market share.

But for Phoenix Group, it’s not just about numbers. It’s about building a better future. The company remains dedicated to green practices, integrating hydro cooling technology in collaboration with both Bitmain and Whatsminer. “Our environmental responsibility is core to our values,” emphasized Munaf Ali, Co-Founder & Group MD of Phoenix Group. “Partnerships like these, coupled with our commitment to hydro cooling, pave the way for a greener blockchain future.”

This comes as the USA and crypto enthusiasts around the world await announcements of the first Bitcoin ETFs.

In a recent press release published by Marathon Digital Holdings, Bitcoin mining entity, the company showcased its unaudited Bitcoin production stating that in January 2024 their Abu Dhabi facilities will have a total of 7.1 exahashes online.

According to the CEO of Marathon Digital Fred Thiel, the operations in Abu Dhabi UAE currently has 2.7 exahashes online and includes over 13,000 rigs energized at their second larger facility in Masdar City. As he stated, “the remaining 4.4 exahashes are still expected to be online in January 2024.”

In November Marathon Digital had reported that 7.5 exahashes would be online by the end of 2023.

Marathon Digital by December had increased their energized hash rate 4% to 24.7 exahashes and extended their lead as the largest publicly traded Bitcoin miner in North America. As per Thiel, “We continue to target 30% growth in energized hash rate in 2024 and with the recently announced acquisition of the two sites from Generate Capital, which is expected to close in January 2024, we expect to reach 50 exahashes in the next 18 to 24 months.”

In addition their new joint venture in Paraguay also continued to energize, reaching 0.3 exahashes with 2,110 miners now online and the company expect the total 1.1 exahashes to be online by early Q2 2024.

Bitcoin production grew, as Marathon mined 1,853 BTC in December, up 56% from November, and 290% year-over-year.

Thiel explained, “Significantly higher transaction fees helped December’s Bitcoin production grow much faster than average operational hash rate. For the month, MaraPool collected more than 380 BTC in transaction fees or 22% of BTC production, up from 12% of production last month. Our success in capturing the sizable transaction fees currently available to miners is directly related to owning and operating our own pool and represents a key competitive advantage of our vertically integrated tech stack.”

As of December 31, the Company holds a total of 15,174 unrestricted BTC. Marathon opted to sell 704 BTC or 38% of monthly production to cover operating expenses. The Company intends to sell a portion of its bitcoin holdings in future periods to support monthly operations, manage its treasury, and for general corporate purposes.

Marathon held $356.8 million in cash and cash equivalents on its balance sheet at month end, all of which was unrestricted. During December, the combined balance of unrestricted cash and cash equivalents and bitcoin increased from $802.3 million to $998.5 million at December 31, 2023. In anticipation of the next Bitcoin network halving, the Company continues to build liquidity on the balance sheet to capitalize on strategic opportunities, including industry consolidation. The transaction to acquire two operating sites from Generate Capital is expected to close in January 2024 for approximately $178.6 million in cash to be paid from the Company’s balance sheet.

UAE based International Holding Company (IHC), has approved the initiation of the transfer of 2PointZero, a next generation Holding Company comprising several diverse and dynamic companies, which will invest in several industries including crypto ecosystem.

The new Holding company will include a combination of entities holding over $27 billion in assets (transfer will be completed after obtaining all regulatory approvals).

One of the most relevant entities now under 2PointZero is Citadel Technologies.

Citadel is a leading player in the cryptocurrency mining industry and operates a state-of-the-art crypto mining facility in Abu Dhabi, UAE. The company specializes in Bitcoin extraction and is committed to sustainable and efficient mining practices. Citadel’s strategic location in the UAE allows it to leverage the region’s advanced infrastructure. In FY22, Citadel reported a revenue of AED100 million and an asset size of AED2.7 billion. IHC recently acquired a 10% stake in Phoenix Group, which manages the ‘Citadel Project’. Citadel’s facility is recognized as the Middle East’s largest crypto-mining facility.

IHC Chairman, Tahnoon bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: “Today, we are proud to announce the formation of 2PointZero, a next generation holding company that stands at the forefront of pioneering advancements across multiple sectors. Embracing the future with open arms, 2PointZero is committed to having a transformative impact globally. Our dedication to Technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) is evident in our commitment to developing solutions that redefine industries such as Financial Services, Investment Banking, and Resource Management. Our vision transcends boundaries, and our mission is to build sustainable ecosystems that empower communities, cultivate technological excellence, and ensure financial resilience.”

2PointZero will invest across  verticals including Private Equity and Alternative Investments, Venture Capital Operations, Credit/Asset Management, Financial Services (including Micro Financing and Insurance) Investment Banking, Securities Brokerage and Research, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Technology, Mineral and Resource Management, Digital and Cryptocurrency Ecosystems and Mobility.

“2PointZero’s collective strength lies in its diversity, shared vision, and unwavering commitment to progress. Its thriving ecosystem of industry leaders is interconnected, each contributing unique value and drawing strength from their collective purpose,” said Syed Basar Shueb, IHC’s Chief Executive Officer. “By harnessing our expertise and acumen across these industry verticals and operating at an unprecedented scale, 2PointZero is poised to create a transformative impact on the world.”

2PointZero Holding will also include the following entities, Chimera Investments, Lunate, Beltone, International Resources Holding (IRH), and Sagasse Investments.  

A week prior to this announcement, UAE IHC Holding, which bought 10 percent of UAE Phoenix Group, a leading Bitcoin mining entity spurred its growth in Blockchain, AI and IoT in a joint venture with Indian Adani Group.

Oman continues to grow its crypto mining business amidst a crypto bull market and possible Bitcoin ETF approvals in early January across the United States. Oman based Green Data City and Italy based Alps Blockchain, through its subsidiary Alps MiddleEast SPC, have agreed to develop a blockchain data center in Oman. The crypto mining farm will be installed in the Green Data City’s hub with a first phase of 6.5MW.

Alps Blockchain will start to deploy the containerized units in January 2024, and use the latest S21 machines released by Bitmain. Alps Blockchain has long been in partnership with Bitmain, the largest manufacturer of mining equipment in the global market.

The new S21 mining ASIC reaches an efficiency rating of 16 to 17 joules per terahash (J/TH), an unprecedented performance in the market. This performance reduces the energy needed to mine and to secure the Bitcoin network.

The location of the Blockchain Bitcoin mining datacenter is energy efficient given it is located in Southern Oman where the summer temperature stays below 29 degrees celsius, naturally decreasing the cooling requirements compared to the rest of the region. In addition, the presence of cold deep ocean water will bring natural cooling in the next phases of the development and further reduce the energy needed to operate the facility to a minimum.

In addition to the geographical advantages of the location, the partners have chosen Oman because of the long-term security provided by the Green Data City mining license, the stability of the Oman Government energy policies, and the large renewable energy development plans in the Country.

This announcement follows a previous agreement in October 2023 between China’s Bitcoin crypto mining and Blockchain hardware manufacturer, Canaan and Oman’s Green Data city to pilot phase of a new crypto mining operation in Oman. The new site would also be installed in the facility of Green Data City, and under the agreement, Canaan has the option to expand the total capacity to up to 100MW.

As part of the Oman’s strategy to build  crypto mining datacentres in Oman, the first phase of Asyad Group crypto mining center was launched in August 2023 in the Free zone in Salalah.

Built and managed by Exahertz, a subsidiary of Afaq Advance Technologies firm, the first phase was inaugurated during a ceremony attended by top Omani governmental officials. The ceremony was held under the auspices of Eng. Said Hamoud Al Ma’awali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology. It was attended by HH Sayyid Marwan Turki Al Said, Governor of Dhofar.

In the same month, Oman’s Green Data City and Abu Dhabi’s Phoenix Group signed an agreement to develop a 150MW crypto-mining farm in Oman. The new farm will be set up in Green Data City was noted that it will be operational by Q2 2024, becoming one of the largest crypto-mining data centers in the region.

The first Bitcoin was mined in Oman back in December 2022.

Japanese Monex Group, which runs a crypto exchange and asset management has purchased a majority stake in Canadian 3IQ digital asset Fund manager, which was the first to list a Bitcoin Fund in the MENA region out of Nasdaq Dubai. 3iQ had received regulatory approval from DIFC in UAE to list the fund in April 2021 with UAE Based Dalma Capital is the syndicate manager for the fund expansion in the MENA region.

3IQ was also the first to launched regulated exchange listed funds for Bitcoin and Ethereum in North America. Fred Pye in an interview back in 2022 has stated that there would be new funds launched in MENA through Dubai.

Monex Group will acquire majority stake for $39.8 million according to Reuters.

In January 2021 3iQ digital asset fund, had marked the milestone achievement of 1 billion USD in the fund since it was launched in March 2020, which was a 900 percent growth from its previous record of 100 million USD worth of crypto in the fund.

3iQ recently unveiled the industry’s first-ever comprehensive suite of crypto hedge fund managed accounts through their innovative 3iQ Managed Account Platform (QMAP). This pioneering platform is not just a first but a revolution, seamlessly connecting institutions with cutting-edge digital asset alpha strategies. QMAP stands as a beacon of security, transparency, and efficiency, meticulously designed to meet the complex demands of institutional investors worldwide.

“Our long term strategy is to strengthen our asset management business, and by welcoming 3iQ to our group, we aim to achieve high growth by capturing the crypto asset management needs of institutional investors and crypto asset exchanges around the world, which are expected to grow in the future, ” said Yuko Seimei, CEO of Monex Group.

“We’re absolutely thrilled about this incredible opportunity to join forces with Monex Group,” said Frederick T. Pye, Chairman and CEO of 3iQ, “This partnership is not just about growth; it’s a thrilling leap towards realizing our dream. We’ve always been passionate about bringing regulated, innovative digital asset products to investors worldwide, and now, with Monex Group, we can turbocharge this mission. We’re eagerly looking forward to being a part of the Monex family, especially collaborating with Coincheck – Japan’s crypto exchange powerhouse with a staggering 1.8 million customer accounts. Imagine the synergy. With 3iQ’s expertise in crafting exceptional crypto-asset products, we’re poised to bolster Coincheck’s offerings, especially for institutional investors. This is beyond a win-win – it’s a joyous, groundbreaking collaboration that promises to reshape our industry!”

Russia, Saudi Arabia and Iran to start doing deals in Bitcoin, this is a statement made on X by no other than Max Keiser, the well-known Bitcoin influencer and the host of Keiser report, who is as well senior Bitcoin advisor to Nayib Bukele, the President of El Salvador.

As per Keiser’s statement, on X, “Russia, KSA, Iran will start doing deals in Bitcoin. Qatar knows this and is pulling the trigger on a huge BTC buy for their SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund).”

This comes just days after Keiser stated that the Qatar sovereign Fund would be buying $500 billion of Bitcoin. Keiser had stated on X, “I have 1 word for you $100,000 Bitcoin God Candle fans. QATAR, the rumors are getting very loud on this. Their SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund) rumored to looking to buy 1/2 trillion BTC (Bitcoin).”

Months prior to this Qatar was touted as discussing Bitcoin mining during the visit of HH Prince Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani of Qatar to El Salvador but nothing materialized on that front yet.

Keiser is a longtime Bitcoin advocate and educator, having advised people to buy Bitcoin since the price was $1.

With his statements Keiser seems to imply that the top GCC countries, Iran, and Russia plans to break away from the U.S. dollar and gravitate towards Bitcoin for trade.

Some would say that given that the Qatar Investment Authority founded in 2005 in October 2023, had an estimated $475 billion of assets under management would they use all that to buy Bitcoin? Qatar has not even legalized the trade of cryptocurrencies and neither has Saudi Arabia, Iran, or Russia.

In January 2023, Qatar Investment Authority CEO Mansoor Ebrahim Al-Mahmoud told Bloomberg that they would be interested in the credit space, and AI (Artificial Intelligence) as a theme of investments. In 2022 the CEO of Qatar Sovereign Wealth Fund showed interest in investing in Blockchain but shunned crypto.

Could the strained relationships with the United States be pushing forward this movement towards de-dollarization in the form of utilization of Bitcoin?

Another interesting analysis could be that Qatar is actually interested in Bitcoin mining in El Salvador.  El Salvador was noted as entering a public private partnership worth $1billion to create the world’s largest Bitcoin mining farm. Volcano Energy has developed the first mining pool in El Salvador with Luxor Technology.

This according to Volcano Energy is a $1 billion Bitcoin mining project set to transform El Salvador through the development and operation of renewable energy plants. Could Qatar one of the most experienced and highly invested renewable energy country be interested in this project? Maybe just maybe yes!

UAE digital assets infrastructure provider Fuze has partnered with Abu Dhabi headquartered Wio Bank to empower its customers with virtual assets trading services.

Customers will be able to buy and sell popular cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, directly through Wio Bank’s recently launched application, Wio Personal.

Wio Personal is an intelligent everyday banking application redefining the way individuals see, manage, and grow their money. The personal banking application allows all customers to start investing simply and effortlessly. Wio Personal users can access thousands of global stocks, ETFs, fractional shares and even UAE IPOs seamlessly in a single, integrated app.

Speaking about the significance of the partnership, Jayesh Patel, CEO of Wio Bank PJSC, said, “The region is emerging as an important hub for cryptocurrency and there is a demand from customers for convenient, seamless access to crypto trading services integrated within their daily banking apps. As a business that was created to catalyze the digital banking ecosystem, we are excited at the opportunities this collaboration with Fuze provides, to better serve our customers and support the UAE’s forward-thinking transformation of the financial services sector. Fuze mirrors our own robust governance, compliance, and risk capabilities, so our customers can be confident in having secure access to Virtual Assets.”

Mohammed Ali Yusuf (Mo Ali Yusuf), Co-Founder and CEO of Fuze, added, “As a regulated provider, we are proud to partner with Wio Bank, which has already made tremendous strides in redefining banking for the modern era across the region. There is a clear synergy with our mission to build the future of finance and we look forward to supporting Wio Bank in delivering regulated, trusted crypto services to its flourishing customer base.”

In a recent UAE poll suggested 48% of crypto users lacked trust in crypto exchanges. Through such partnerships, neobanks can provide regulated options for their customers and help to increase trust in the crypto ecosystem.

Animoca Brands, early investors in The Sandbox, has invested in UAE gaming startup Farcana, to advance digital property rights for gaming and the metaverse fueling Farcana’s beta launch and development within the Bitcoin Ecosystem with Free Mint Bitcoin ordinals.

Built with Unreal Engine 5, Farcana is a team arena third person shooter that offers competitive tournaments backed by permanent Bitcoin prize pools and will be one of the first AAA Web3 games to introduce its “Free Mint” Bitcoin ordinals. The game has attracted over 40,000 users and is planning new tournaments based on initial playtests in Dubai.

The majority of the new capital will be used for the enhancement of Farcana and its integration within the Bitcoin ecosystem, as the project gears up for a token launch and full game release earlier next year.

Animoca Brands, a Hong Kong-based Web3 industry leader, has been collaborating with Farcana on tokenomics and go-to-market strategy since Q2 2023. With the investment announced today Animoca Brands maintains its strong level of activity in the MENA region, following the Web3 leader’s recently announced strategic partnership with Saudi Arabia’s NEOM.

Yat Siu, co-founder and executive chairman of Animoca Brands, praised Farcana’s progress and commented: “We have been working with Farcana over the past year and we’ve been impressed with the development and traction it’s received so far. Our strategic investment into Farcana is part of the vision of Animoca Brands to drive Web3 development in MENA; the region is rapidly modernizing and adopting emerging technologies, and we’re excited to support partners such as Farcana as they actively lead the sector and bring exciting products to market.”

Ilman Shazhaev, founder and CEO of Farcana, shared his impressions about the strategic investment from Animoca Brands, stating: “We did amazing work with the Animoca Brands advisory team this year. With the redesign of our tokenomics, improvements within the in-game economy, documentation, and go-to-market strategy, we had tremendously productive team-to-team collaboration. Sometimes I would forget that we were working in different companies. This strategic investment from Animoca Brands is definitely a significant milestone for Farcana. During the bear market, we were fully focused on building and delivering one of the best games in web3, and we are incredibly excited to bring it to the market next year.”