In 2023 and earlier this year in January, the UAE licensed in total 13 crypto exchanges and crypto brokers. This came at the backdrop of a more robust virtual asset regulatory ecosystem both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as well as a heightened awareness and interest in investing in crypto tokens, virtual assets, and digital assets.

The most important question to many who are either already investing and trading in crypto or who are just getting started is which crypto exchange or broker can serve me best. The article will look into each crypto exchange and compare them to offer a more transparent mirror of the licensed and regulated crypto exchanges in the UAE.


Starting with OKX is mainly because it is the first global exchange to receive a virtual asset license to operate their crypto exchange in the UAE. OKX received the license in January 2024, yet is still not fully operational as it finalizes certain requirements requested by Dubai’s virtual asset regulatory authority VARA.

However when it does start, it will offer more than 350 crypto tokens. So other than the basic offering of trading tokens or trade pairs on the spot, margin and derivatives markets, it also offers managing of DeFi portfolios, buying and selling NFTs, earn crypto in our mining pools, and take out crypto collateralized loans.

But wait all these products are not available to UAE retail and institutional clients. So far, OKX’s approved suite of duly regulated virtual assets activities includes spot services and spot-pairs, via the OKX App and exchange.

The UAE VASP License also allows OKX to offer AED deposits and withdrawals.

OKX also announced that it has developed its Arabic website to meet the needs of users in the MENA region.

Finally OKX is active on all social media platforms so engaging with the community is available through many channels.

The crypto exchange boasts of over 50 million users in more than 100 countries. It is currently seeking a license in Hong Kong.


Next in line is homegrown Crypto broker CoinMENA, which is not only now licensed in the UAE but was also one of the first to be licensed in Bahrain. CoinMENA offers the major cryptocurrencies on its platform, 52 in total.

It is fully operational and is authorized to serve Institutional Investors, qualified Investors and retail Investors. It offers spot trading of crypto assets.

CoinMENA already is fully operational and has been serving customers in the GCC and MENA region through its Bahrain licensed entity.

In addition customers can deposit money directly via bank transfer or credit/debit card to a customer’s CoinMENA Wallet, as well as withdraw money from CoinMENA Wallet directly to a client’s bank account.

CoinMENA currently serves over 900,000 users supporting seven countries.

Recently CoinMENA expanded 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.

Crypto ExchangeRegulatory StatusPresence in
OKXCrypto ExchangeHongKong UAE
Fassetcrypto brokerUAE
CoinMENAcrypto brokerUAE Bahrain
GCEXInstitutional crypto ExchangeUAE Denmark UK
FUZECrypto brokerUAE
BackPack Exchange crypto exchangeUAE
TokoCrrypto exchange/brokerUAE
Laser DigitalCrypto BrokerUAE
RAINCrypto brokerUAE Bahrain
M2 Crypto exchangeUAE
GlomexInstitutional crypto exchangeUAE
MatrixInstitutional crypto exchangeUAE
MidchainsInstitutional crypto exchangeUAE
VenomexInstitutional crypto ExchangeUAE


M2 is a UAE Abu Dhabi Homegrown crypto exchange. It received its license back in November 2023 from ADGM. It was recognized as a fully regulated Multilateral Trading Facility (MTF) and Custodian and is now able to on-board UAE residents and institutional clients.

M2 offers spot trading and currently has 50 crypto tokens to choose from.

It will also be able to offer AED Fiat On/Off-Ramp: Allow the on/off ramp of AED with ease through its partnership with a local bank in the near future.

One of the strengths of M2 is that it is backed by strong investors, one of which is a Bitcoin mining conglomerate, Phoenix Group that helps M2 to offer its Bitcoin Earn Product. The product was launched in partnership with Phoenix crypto mining group and offers yields that reach up to 10.5%.

M2 has an equity investment of $300 million as well.


RAIN crypto broker and exchange was the first crypto broker to receive a license in the MENA region. Its operations started in Bahrain and it is now licensed in the UAE through ADGM in Abu Dhabi.

On the landing page of RAIN the first thing a user sees is the 0% trading fee. RAIN offers 70 crypto tokens to trade with. RAIN also offers crypto swaps.

It also is able to offer AED Fiat On/Off-Ramp: Allow the on/off ramp of AED with ease through its partnership with UAE local banks.

Like most of the major exchanges it has a mobile application, and is present on most social media channels.


In November 2023, Fasset received its crypto broker license from Dubai’s regulator VARA. This license follows Fasset’s launch in Indonesia in August, where it partnered with Mastercard Indonesia and telco giant Indosat Ooredoo Hutchison.

Fasset offers five crypto tokens to trade with.

On its website, unlike other crypto exchanges, Fasset states that it offers gold investments using blockchain technology, crypto staking and other products. How much of this they can offer with their license in VARA is not clear. But it would be a surprise if they could offer these with their current license.

Crypto ExchangeMaker FeeTaker FeeCurrenciesMinimum deposit USDTrade Limits
OKX0.08%0.10%32010100,000 USDT
CoinMENA0.75%0.75%5210No limits
GCEXNoNo5050,000No Limits
BackPack Exchange0.085%0.095%NANANA
RAIN0.15%0.30%7020No Limits
Matrix0.10%0.20%750,000No Limits
Midchains0%0.40%17NANo limits
NA means not available on their website or other sources of information.

Other crypto exchanges

As for the rest of the crypto exchanges and brokers that serve retail and institutional clients and are licensed in UAE, they are Fuze, BackPack exchange, Toko and Laser Digital. These four were licensed by Dubai’s virtual asset authority, but have yet to populate their websites with clear information on their product offering, fees and other information.

Fuze is preparing to launch and its CEO refrained from sharing information until they do.

As for purely institutional investors they can work with the following crypto exchanges who only deal with institutional customers. These are GCEX where the minimum deposit is $50,000 offering 50 tokens.

According to GCEX Managing Director, Mehtap Onder, the exchange doesn’t charge its clients maker and taker fees but just a trading fee.

Then there is Matrix, who also has a minimum deposit of $50,000 but offers just 7 crypto tokens to trade and invest in.

Interestingly Venomex has no information on its fees and offering, and just states on its website, that it will communicate its fees and charges via a notice.


In conclusion, the UAE definitely now has an array of crypto exchanges and crypto brokers that can offer safe and secure means to trade and invest in crypto tokens. It is left up to customers to choose which one they feel more comfortable with, which one offers competitive fees and which ones offer the crypto assets they want to trade.

Users can choose between local, regional and global exchanges to work with. But the future will bring even more. As VARA recently announced, while the regulator awarded 19 regulated VASP licenses in 2023, with 11 already operational, it will be adding 72 more in the coming months.

This could mean that Binance will soon have a license to operate in UAE, as will ByBit, and among others.

As more crypto exchanges enter the UAE as regulated entities, competition will surely increase and this is always a good thing for clients and users, so be prepared.

About 65,000 Oman residents own cryptocurrencies, equivalent to 1.9 percent of the population. In a recent survey carried out by Oman based Souq Analyst, the largest investment community in Oman, it was found that 90% of crypto owners’ are between the ages of 18 and 44. Only 8% are over the age of 45.

The survey results also noted that the majority owners are highly educated, with 66% of them holding a bachelor’s degree or higher.

Souq Analyst offers stock market news and analysis, investing ideas, earnings calls, charts and portfolio analysis to its community members. In addition the community offers country specific insights on finance, cryptocurrencies, crowd funding & investing as well as access community events, workshop and webinars.

According to the survey an impressive 97.9% of Omani adults have heard about cryptocurrency, indicating an increasing level of awareness. 55% of respondents report owning cryptocurrency and Bitcoin is the most popular followed by Ethereum, Ripple, Tether and other alternative coins.

Mohammed Al-Tamami Co-founder & Chief Commercial officer of Mamun and Founder of Souq Analyst, told LaraontheBlock, “Firstly and foremost data like this is generally useful to everyone. It also offers insights into some unique trends that you didn’t consider say adoption of a certain token or cryptocurrency take XRP ownership in Oman is noticeable according to results in our survey mentioned in the report.”

Over 12% of respondents reported owning more than 10,000 OMR worth of crypto assets equivalent to $26,000. In addition, 62 percent of the respondents plan to increase their cryptocurrency holding in 2023. 

According to the survey, 62% of cryptocurrency owners invest long-term, while 25% use digital assets for learning and education, and 23% trade daily.

Al Tamami founded Souq analyst to be a provider of quality reports on the industry because it’s useful for their own activities in the space including their fund.

The survey is interesting in that it shows that cryptocurrency holders are still bullish on crypto in Oman.

The Dubai based Q9 Capital, which had announced a month ago unilaterally announced that they had received a provisional virtual asset approval from Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) are now listed on Dubai VARA ( Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority) website under Native crypto content/ DLT platform. Q9 is listed along with Calvin Cheng Web 3.0 Holding and Woonkly Labs.

This had taken some time, as Q9 Capital had announced that they had received a provisional approval in October 2022. But looking at VARA website, it seems Q9 has received a DLT or crypto content preliminary approval. 

As per Q9 press release the company is a crypto investment management platform offering capabilities to crypto and TradFi firms.

Q9 had stated that this approval came as it expanded into the UAE and applied for a full operating license in accordance with VARA requirements.  As per the release, Q9 products and strategies can be created and executed on Q9’s platform, such as systematic investment portfolios and white-labeled offerings, within VARA’s framework and distributed globally in an automated, transparent, regulated and compliant manner.

The release added, the full operating license, once received, will allow Q9 to extend products and services to qualified investors and financial service providers. Q9 will also establish a regional hub in Dubai to contribute to developing the ever-expanding virtual asset ecosystem both in Dubai and globally.

The press release from Q9 had noted that the provisional approval is a major milestone that follows a number of registrations for Q9’s local entities in Hong Kong and Dubai. As a regulation-led platform with robust compliance and security controls that have consumer protection and market integrity at its core, the registration further strengthens Q9’s position.

James Quinn, Managing Partner of Q9, noted “Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority is a testament to the country’s forward-looking stance on digital assets and its willingness to support the industry through collaboration. We look forward to participating in the authority’s robust compliance framework and continue building partnerships as we expand our presence in Dubai to roll out additional services and enhanced products for the region.”

SwissBorg, a cryptocurrency wealth management app, has launched in the UAE, to offer a secure way to invest and earn interest on assets through Web 3.0. The award-winning app’s formula for mass adoption is two-fold, simplicity and automation, to help anyone regardless of age or skills, become a community member. 

As per the press release, SwissBorg brings more than six years of expertise to the UAE, introducing a digital asset management app that takes the guesswork out of crypto investments. 

In the first year of its operation, the organization raised $54 million via a successful Initial Coin Offering across 146 countries from 25,000 individual contributors across the globe. The platform has 700,000 active users across multiple countries, having established strong relationships with various banks with fiat gateways for 16 currencies and credit cards.

 According to Gemini’s 2022 report ‘Global State of Crypto’, 35% of the UAE population have adopted some form of crypto tokens, compared to 17% uptake in developed nations. And of the part of the population that has not yet invested, 32% are likely to purchase crypto in 2023. A third of the crypto owners use it to make in-person purchases at brick-and-mortar retailers, compared to just 19% of owners globally.

Anthony Lesoismier, Co-Founder & Chief Strategy Officer at SwissBorg, commented on the launch, said: “We are pioneering a new era in asset management and private banking supported by blockchain technology and cryptocurrencies assets. We see cryptocurrencies as a serious investment, and our goal is to provide a variety of long-lasting crypto financial products that everyone can use to participate in the largest wealth transition in human history. The UAE serves as our perfect Middle Eastern launch pad because it is the region’s commercial, technological and cultural hub. Our extensive experience will enable UAE investors to make more confident cryptocurrency investments.”

Alexander Fazel, Chief Partnerships Officer added: “The UAE is on a trajectory to becoming the crypto capital of the world by gathering industry leaders from all corners of the globe. At SwissBorg, our goal is to be the bridge between traditional finance and decentralized finance and contribute to a world where one community will reshape centuries of broken finance. We’re at the crossroads of a new era and are forever grateful to be a part of this vibrant community. We are bringing in people from all walks of life and there is nothing more rewarding than having teenagers to senior citizens with the same purpose. SwissBorg will redesign the Bank of the Future layer by layer by educating new crypto investors in the UAE to be a part of this paradigm shift.”

SwissBorg has entered partnerships with local leaders Crypto Oasis in the UAE and is also currently raising funds in the region for a strategic round focusing on short to long-term value creation.  

SwissBorg is also one of first companies to give complete transparency on Proof of Assets and Proof of Liabilities trackable at any time in real-time using blockchain technology, creating new norms to restore trust among centralized exchanges in the wake of the recent FTX incident. 

SwissBorg seperates between custodial service and exchange, as such it does not hold custody of users’ funds and instead uses FireBlocks a trusted custodian with MPC technology.  

Binance, Kraken, LMAX, Bitfinex, and SwissBorg, are connected to the order management system (OMS), which actively searches for the best pricing for its users resulting in the platform becoming their main trading account.

 Users can start investing in three simple steps — upload their personal information and proof of identity, which is completely automated, make a deposit with their credit card or cryptos and they can then start investing.

eToro,  social investment networks  has received an In-Principle Approval to operate as a securities, derivatives and crypto broker in Abu Dhabi, UAE.

The Financial Services Permission from the Financial Services Regulatory Authority of Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), approval will enable eToro to establish a base from which to offer its services to customers across the region.


eToro allows users to view other investors’ portfolios and statistics, and interact with them to exchange ideas, discuss strategies, and benefit from shared knowledge. Users can hold traditional assets such as equities, currencies, ETFs, or commodities, alongside newer assets like cryptoassets. eToro also offers its users a choice of how to invest, as users can trade directly themselves, invest in a portfolio, or replicate the investment strategy of other investors on eToro’s platform at no extra cost, with a single click.

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Markets at ADGM, said, “We are pleased that eToro has been awarded an In-Principle Approval by the ADGM and are excited to support them as they work towards establishing their foothold and presence in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE. ADGM is the largest regulated jurisdiction of virtual assets in the MENA region and eToro’s participation will add to its vibrant and trusted ecosystem of virtual asset trading venues, global exchanges and service providers.ADGM will continue to actively expand the business offerings and unlock new investment opportunities in the UAE, and enable investment platforms partners like eToro to support the growing financial needs of the investors and businesses across the region.”


Jason Hughes, Senior Executive Officer, UAE at eToro said, “This is an important milestone for eToro. The UAE has one of the most vibrant fintech landscapes in the Middle East, and Abu Dhabi one of the most sophisticated regulatory frameworks for digital assets. We’re incredibly proud to be joining this ecosystem. We look forward to working with the ADGM to obtain our full licence, and, in turn, expanding our services to investors in the UAE and further afield. We recently opened our office in Abu Dhabi to support this expansion and are looking forward to growing the team locally.”

George Naddaf, Regional Manager, UAE at eToro concluded, “eToro’s goal is to provide more people with access to financial markets. With the full licence in place, more investors in the Middle East will gain access not only to global markets, but also a wealth of educational content and the opportunity to share knowledge and discuss their strategy with our community of global investors. We are looking forward to working with our prospective clients and partners in the region.”

Singaporean start-up, KoinBasket, which recently received a 2 million USD pre-seed funding, is launching the UAE’s first crypto basket application. The company wants to make investing in crypto as easy as online shopping.

As per the press release, the crypto basket application will also provide the with superlative fundamental analysis from KoinBasket. The company is backed by marquee investors that include Angellist quant fund, Stonks fund, Kube VC cryptopreneurs like Polygon founder Sandeep Nailwal and Global CXOs from Ripple, Binance Citibank, Google, Accenture, Nomura, Fiserv and many more.

Elaborating on how KoinBasket’s collaboration with global crypto exchanges will transform the way the world invests in crypto assets, Co-Founder and CEO Khaleelulla Baig states, “The UAE is an emerging market for us and we are excited to launch a variety of basket options in the Emirates, which is rapidly growing to become a global crypto hub with proactive and encouraging regulations by the government under a visionary leadership. Investing in crypto assets can be both fascinating and terrifying considering the mind-blowing returns on investment and the inherent volatility displayed by most crypto assets. At KoinBasket, we believe that investing in well-researched and curated baskets can be more rewarding in the long term and offers a hassle-free option for millions of investors who are still contemplating investing in this booming asset class.”

Created with the aim of solving the challenge faced by crypto investors in studying and investing in crypto assets like crypto tokens and non-fungible tokens (NFTs), KoinBasket is simplifying the entire process by offering thematic and sector-based crypto baskets such as its Moon basket, G.O.A.T basket, NFT & Gaming basket, Internet sensation basket and many more that are in the pipeline.

The application has 0% transaction fees and initial investments starting from as low as AED 500 AED. Users can trade in multiple crypto tokens simultaneously with KoinBasket’s basket order facility while its unique health check engine scours crypto data for both red flags and lucrative investing opportunities, to provide them with alerts to take prompt action and rebalance their portfolios accordingly.

Mr. Baig said: “KoinBasket will be catering to more than 300 million crypto users across the top crypto exchanges in the world and bowling them over with our secure, convenient and user-friendly investment interface that can help them build a diversified crypto portfolio offering a broader market exposure beyond the top cryptocurrencies. With more baskets in the offing, including those that focus on decentralized finance (DeFi), KoinBasket will soon be synonymous with mutual fund/ETF investing, but for crypto assets.”

Kucoin cryptocurrency exchange has revealed in a report “ Crypto Verse Report on adoption of digital currencies in Saudi Arabia” that 3 million Saudi Arabians are crypto investors who currently own cryptocurrencies or have traded in past six months. This means 3 million out of an adult population of 21 million  or 14 percent currently own cryptocurrencies.

The survey also found that another 17 percent of adult population surveyed, was crypto curious and are likely to invest in crypto in the next six months. This would be mean that by the end of 2022, 31 percent of Saudi adult population or 6.6 million will be trading or owners of cryptocurrencies. 

The report’s findings highlight sustainable interest among potential crypto investors in the Arab country. In the first quarter of 2022, 49% of crypto investors intended to increase investment in cryptocurrencies over the coming six months. The onset of the bearish market in the second quarter of 2022 saw a reversal of investor sentiment toward more conservative strategies related to the holding of cryptocurrencies. 

In the second quarter of 2022, 31% of crypto owners in Saudi Arabia said that they would keep their crypto balance as is rather than increase their investment. Investors with lower income tended to sell off a part of their portfolios during the same period.

The high proportion of new market entrants is unique to Saudi Arabia, as 76% of crypto investors have less than one year of experience in crypto investment, including 49% of those who first started trading cryptocurrencies in the past six months, suggesting strong demand for crypto education in the market. 51% of crypto investors invest because they believe it is the future of finance, while 44% believe that cryptocurrencies can bring them higher returns in the long run compared to other types of financial investment.

On the demographic side, 63% of crypto investors are men. The gender ratio has remained stable over the past months. In terms of age distribution, young crypto investors below 30 account for at least a third of the total and have increased to 37% in the second quarter of 2022. A slight difference is observed in the mindsets of men versus women, as 44% of male crypto investors say they do not want to miss the trend. On the other hand, women tend to hold a more practical mindset, focusing on realistic benefits. 48% of female crypto investors are motivated by its profitability in the long run, and 42% of females invest in crypto to gain passive income.

42% of Saudi crypto investors say they plan to use the profits to improve their families’ living conditions. Other goals include buying a new house, saving for retirement or emergency fund, and spending on other enjoyments such as traveling and shopping. In addition, 15% of crypto investors hope to live on the income from a crypto investment to be spared from work. Many are using the gains from crypto investment to grow their portfolio and reinvest, especially male crypto investors. 29% of crypto investors plan to start their businesses with gains, and 28% intend to reinvest the money into the financial market.

 Social media is the most popular source of crypto-related information, which 84% of crypto investors turn to when doing their research, particularly YouTube and Twitter. Online communities are also important influences for investors. 35% of crypto investors rely on the communities or Telegram for crypto-related information. 32% of investors prefer to consult their families and friends, while others research on their own, seeking information from various sources.

Almost half of crypto investors buy digital currencies using fiat and engage in spot trading every month, which involves trading, buying, and selling on the current market value as the only form of crypto trading that is considered halal by some scholars in the Arab world. Types of investment that involve interests and gambling, such as staking, futures trading, and margin trading, are less popular in the country. As the market goes bearish in the second quarter of 2022, 42% of crypto investors have adopted auto-trading solutions such as trading bots, 7% up from the previous quarter.

Investors search for excellent security and customer service when deciding which crypto exchange to use. The ability to be supported by secure and stable technology is a must-have for 40% of crypto investors, and 36% prefer the promise of repayment in the event of a security breach. In addition, the platforms’ efficient customer service is considered critical by 37% of respondents.

In 2021 Kucoin announced that users were able to buy USDT using United Arab Emirates Dirham through P2P fiat trading with the same for KSA as well.