OKX crypto exchange, with more than 50 million users, seeking a license in the UAE, has announced that it has appointed a General Manager for MENA region based out of Dubai.

Rifad Mahasneh, in his role as General Manager will be responsible for leading OKX’s operations and regulatory approach, and growing the company’s user base and market share in the region.

OKX President Hong Fang said: “We’re thrilled to welcome Rifad as OKX’s leader in MENA. With his extensive background in digital assets, finance and growth, and years of local leadership in the region, Rifad is a key strong addition to the team. With MENA being one of the fastest growing markets globally for digital assets and Web3 adoption, this appointment is a testament to our commitment to drive sustainable growth in this region.”

OKX MENA General Manager Rifad Mahasneh said: “I’m excited to join OKX and lead its MENA business – it’s a privilege to be a part of such a forward-thinking and innovative company. I look forward to contributing to the development of OKX in the UAE and across the MENA region, and to playing a role in helping to onboard the next billion users to Web3.”

Rifad has extensive experience in digital assets, strategy, and public policy in the UAE and is a board member of the Dubai Digital Asset Association (D2A2). Prior to joining OKX, Rifad held the position of Vice President with Rain, leading business and licensing efforts in the UAE. His earlier roles included leading Uber’s ride hailing business in the Gulf Cooperation Council and the Levant regions.

Blockchain tokenization platform ACX (AirCarbon Exchange) is now live with key trades executed and settled on the platform with First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and Helix Climate conduct first trade on the exchange and South Pole executes first over-the-counter transaction on Carbon Market Board

ACX established its regional base in ADGM in August 2021 with the support of Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem. Hub71 is powered by Mubadala Investment Company PJSC (Mubadala), an Abu Dhabi sovereign investor. Mubadala invested in ACX in September 2022 as a strategic step in line with its economic diversification mandate and commitment to responsible investing.

In September 2022, ADGM, the international financial center of the UAE’s capital that is established as a financial free zone, became the first jurisdiction to regulate voluntary carbon credits as financial instruments through the introduction of an Environmental Instrument classification, a regulatory framework to license exchanges and clearing houses for both spot and derivatives markets for these products.

In November 2022, ACX Abu Dhabi became the first entity to be licensed under this framework, being the world’s first regulated Recognized Investment Exchange and Recognized Clearing House offering Environmental Instruments in the form of carbon credits.

The inaugural carbon credits trade on the fully regulated exchange was executed between First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB) and specialist carbon trading company Helix Climate.

Sameh Al Qubaisi, Group Head of Global Markets at First Abu Dhabi Bank, said, “We are delighted to execute the first trade on ACX Abu Dhabi. As the UAE’s largest bank, we are keen to support the expansion and potential of carbon markets to provide price signals that can help companies reduce or remove their greenhouse gas emissions in the most efficient way.”

Simon Harman, Founding Partner of Helix Climate, said, “Helix Climate are proud to have transacted the first trade on ACX Abu Dhabi, the first fully regulated carbon exchange. We share ACX’s vision to grow liquidity, transparency and confidence in the voluntary carbon markets and look forward to transacting more volume on the exchange.”

Arvind Ramamurthy, Chief of Market Development at ADGM , said, “Last year, ADGM welcomed the introduction of ACX, the first regulated carbon credit trading exchange and clearing house in the world and today we are more than thrilled to witness its live launch. As we find ourselves in a critical time with the development of global carbon markets, this step marks a momentous milestone in the journey towards a thriving market for voluntary carbon markets. We look forward to seeing ACX take on a pivotal role in not just environmental instruments but also in other markets and financial instruments, including virtual asset markets.”

“This marks another important step in bringing carbon credits closer to the world of regulated commodities,” said ACX’s Co-Founder and Co-CEO William Pazos. “ACX is proud to be the world’s first fully regulated spot carbon environmental exchange and clearing house. We are equally honored to be recognized for our ability to innovate and trigger positive change in this critically important sector.”

Further enhancing its portfolio, ACX Abu Dhabi is also pleased to announce the first trade on its Carbon Market Board (CMB) – an electronic trading facility that allows participants to execute and settle over-the-counter transactions. The trade was concluded with South Pole, the world’s leading climate project developer and solutions provider.

“By providing a regulated environment for carbon credit trades, ACX is helping to build higher integrity carbon markets: both buyers and sellers have more certainty thanks to the regulatory wrapper around the traded carbon credits and a marketplace that is scrutinized by an independent financial services authority. Trust will result in scale of climate action and impact, which is essential today,” said Abderrahman Kasmi, Executive Director for Procurement & Trading at South Pole.

UAE Mubadala Investment Company PJSC (Mubadala) acquired a majority stake in blockchain enabled AirCarbon Exchange (ACX), this came after Mubadala Capital led Series B funding round of $70 million for Ramp Network, whose mission is to make Web3 a reality by enabling mainstream adoption of products and services offered by pioneering blockchain ventures.

UK based  BeZero Carbon partnered with UAE Blockchain security token platform for carbon credits ACX (formerly known as AirCarbon Exchange) to host its carbon credit ratings on ACX’s Abu Dhabi exchange – bringing transparent carbon ratings to a new audience in the Gulf States.

During the Qatar Economic Forum organized by Bloomberg, Ola Doudin, Co-Founder and CEO of UAE based BitOasis participated in a panel alongside Yat Siu, Co-Founder and Executive Chairman of Animoca Brands to discuss “Harnessing the Power of Blockchain”

Doudin uncovered during the panel that BitOasis would be the first regulated virtual asset platform in KSA (Kingdom of Saudi Arabia). She stated, “We are working with regulators in KSA to be the first regulated platform in Saudi and other larger markets.”

She also mentioned that BitOasis is in discussions with regulators in Egypt and Morocco. She discussed how in both Egypt and Morocco, citizens are interested in access to tokenized dollars, better known as stablecoins especially in countries with high inflation rates and easy access to these stablecoins. According to her, this is a challenge to regulators and is something they will have to seriously look at.

This comes after BitOasis became the first crypto broker to receive an operational license from Dubai’s virtual asset regulator (VARA). BitOasis has also received preliminary approval for its license in Bahrain.

Interestingly Ola Doudin talked about the GCC’s growing interest in tokenization.

According to Doudin, “One of the biggest applications of interest in the Gulf region is tokenization because it can bring in new industries by tokenizing hard assets into liquid form through blockchain based tokens. We are seeing the Gulf region, KSA and UAE focusing on tokenized securities bringing more liquidity, more transparency from an investment standpoint in a regulated way.”

She adds that BitOasis is ready for tokenization of hard assets as it has already built a regulated infrastructure with the means to buy and sell tokenized assets and as such can support this movement.

She gives the example that in a recent BCG research it stated that in the next 10 years tokenization of assets will be worth $16 trillion.