UAE based Fils, an enterprise-grade digital infrastructure provider enabling companies to embed sustainability and climate action into their business models, has featured in a new PWC Middle East report on Carbon credit tokenization: Pioneering a sustainable future

It has been estimated that the carbon credits market will expand to US$100 billion by 2030, by Morgan Stanley, a global leader in financial services. The PwC Middle East report examines the tokenization of carbon credits and how financial institutions can become game-changing players in leveraging this process to combat climate change.  

The report emphasizes the practical deployment of carbon credit tokenization- as demonstrated by Fils – showcasing how the fintech’s technology is being used by several of its banking clientele.

Since its launch ahead of COP28 last year, Fils has embedded digital tools to businesses across various sectors, enabling them to integrate climate initiatives into their workflows.

A case study featuring in the report reveals that their innovative software has enabled major fintechs, such as Magnati in the UAE and Geidea in the KSA, and banks such as Mashreq, to process payments that automatically offset carbon emissions, simplifying eco-friendly transactions and ensuring business transparency. Fils also uses advanced analytics for carbon emission calculations in corporate spending, offering a clear view of environmental impact. This approach exemplifies Fils’ efficient method to incorporate climate action into business models, contributing to a sustainable future in finance and positioning Fils as a foundational force in building a global community of sustainability-minded businesses.

“We are incredibly proud that Fils’ efforts and achievements in integrating climate action into business models have been recognized and used as a case study in this report.” said Nameer Khan, CEO of Fils. “Since our inception, we have been instrumental in assisting financial institutions to effectively incorporate climate action into their operations. This report not only showcases our technology through our real world case studies but also amplifies our reach, giving us a larger platform to inform others about what we do and expand into new regions. It’s a testament to our continued commitment to sustainability and the growing impact of our solutions on a global scale,” he added.

PwC Middle East’s report talks about the emergence of tokenization, its role in enhancing financial services, how tokenized carbon credits are creating game changing opportunities by building a more transparent, efficient and accessible market for carbon credits, in turn driving growth and therefore supporting the goals of the Paris Agreement to drop emissions by 45% by 2030.

Commenting on the report, Serena Sebastiani, Virtual Assets Consulting Leader at PwC Middle East said, “This report underscores the critical role of informed partnerships in advancing climate action.”

She added, “By merging insights from Fils’ application of technology with our strategic overview, the report aims to educate financial institutions about the benefits of tokenisation applied to carbon credits, driving a shift towards how the world of finance can play a big role in saving our planet, one token at a time. “

Fils has established strategic partnerships with significant financial institutions in the region, including Magnati in the UAE, Geidea in KSA, and Mashreq Bank, enabling millions of merchants worldwide to reduce their environmental impact. 

Built on investor interactions with centralized exchanges, Chainalysis has come out with their crypto gains by country research. Interestingly Turkey took top place in the MENA region with gains reach close to $1billion followed by Saudi Arabia at $350 million.

As per Chainalysis, overall crypto investors achieved total gains of $37.6 billion in 2023 much lower than gains made in 2021 which reached $159.7 billion but better than 2022 which witnessed losses of $127.1 billion.

The United States led the way in cryptocurrency gains by a wide margin in 2023 at an estimated $9.36 billion. The UK placed second with an estimated $1.39 billion in crypto gains.

Then in Asia, Vietnam, China, Indonesia and India all hit over $1 billion in estimated gains placing top six for all countries.

Interestingly in MENA, Turkey saw gains of $950 million, while Saudi Arabia saw gains of $350 million. The only other MENA and GCC country on the list for top gains was UAE, which witnessed $204 million.

The findings from Turkey come at a time when more investments in the crypto space are being carried out in the country. Aquanow Türkiye, a subsidiary of Aquanow, received a strategic investment from two of Turkey’s leading portfolio management companies, Oyak Portföy and Finberg. As per the news, the investment was considered the beginning of a strategic partnership focused on developing innovative digital asset solutions for the Turkish market. Reports have indicated that Turkey is moving towards clarity around crypto regulation, with new rules expected in 2024. In December, the Turkish regulatory authority made technical appointments with experience in crypto assets and blockchain technology to the central bank’s rate-setting committee, according to a Bloomberg report.

On the contrary while Saudi Arabia saw the second biggest crypto gains in MENA region, it has yet to regulate crypto, while rumors are around that it and Qatar might be investing in Bitcoin soon.

So far, the positive trends of 2023 have carried over into 2024, with notable crypto assets like Bitcoin achieving all-time highs in the wake of Bitcoin ETF approvals and increased institutional adoption. If these trends continue, we may see gains more in line with those we saw in 2021. As of March 13, Bitcoin is up 65.4% and Ether is up 70.2% in 2024.

In the fourth annual Chainalysis Global crypto adoption index, identifying countries where the most people are putting the greatest share of their wealth into cryptocurrency, once again Morocco took lead and is listed as one of the top 20 countries placing an Arab country on the map, while Turkey placed first in the MENA region.

It seems with the bull market in full blast, the 2024 report will look even more promising.

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.

In KPMG and Agreus’s  2023 Global Fmaily Office Compensation Benchmark Report which found that financial wealth, generated by ultra-high-net-worth individuals and family offices is forecasted to increase to 46% by 2026 and that Crypto, a growing area of interest in the UAE, could play a small role in global family office portfolios as CEOs and MDs explore it and fall into the category of fun.

As per KPMG Agreus report, “ Diversifying does not always mean investing heavily in the likes of cryptocurrency but rather, decentralizing risk by spreading investments across multiple areas with precedents of high return. Crypto like many ‘new’ asset classes may well continue to play a very small role in Family Office portfolios but it is envisioned this shall fall into the category of fun, a small percentage for Principals to play with either for passion or simple curiosity.”

KPMG report believes that while the coming years could see the introduction of yet another new and exciting asset class, many Family Offices will look to diversify away from risky areas and invest in traditional, safe arenas where track records have already been achieved.

With the UAE’s rise in the establishment of new family offices, wealthy families from around the world have recognized the country’s appeal as a destination for their offices stemming from its combination of tax advantages, strategic location, robust financial services sector, and high-quality lifestyle amenities.

The report surveyed the views of family office chief executive officers, managing directors and staff to analyze succession planning, social mobility, and governance structures. It found that global family offices plan to diversify away from risky areas and invest in traditional, safe arenas where track records have already been achieved. This includes decentralizing risk by spreading investments across multiple areas with high return.

Among those areas of high return was crypto. In the report KPMG noted that crypto, a burgeoning area of interest in the UAE, could play a small role in global family office portfolios as CEOs and MDs explore it.

The report found that family office leaders in the region are aggressively pursuing strategies to grow their wealth and reputation.  Family-owned businesses play a vital role in the economy, contributing over 60% of the GDP in many regions. In 2021, financial wealth in the UAE grew by 20%; approximately 41% was generated by ultra-high-networth individuals and family offices, forecast to increase to 46% by 2026. It is estimated that the UAE’s financial wealth will continue to grow at a compounded annual rate of 6.7% and reach USD 1 trillion by 2026.

Raajeev B Batra Partner and Head of Private Enterprise at KPMG Lower Gulf, said: “Middle East family offices are approaching 2023 with an educated outlook. Previously many family offices focused heavily on investments and less on having a robust sophisticated operational infrastructure, but this trend has changed. The regulatory framework in the UAE more specifically has been a significant driver in attracting family offices to set up in the country.”

Tayyab Mohamed, Co-Founder of Agreus, said: “The contribution of family-owned businesses in the region cannot be stressed enough. They continue to remain a crucial part of the economy, with the UAE and KSA rapidly rising within this space. With the recent initiative by the DIFC to create the Global Family Business and Private Wealth Centre, we believe the Middle East is very competitively placed to be a hub for family offices in the future.”

In Ripple’s latest report entitled “ 2023 New Value report, Crypto Trends in Business and Beyond” which covered topics such as cryptocurrencies, tokenization, DeFi, and crypto custody, financial decision makers from MENA ( Middle East and North Africa) are more bullish than their counterparts in other regions when it comes to cryptocurrencies, digital assets, and Blockchain.

As per the report findings, 72% of finance leaders surveyed expressed increased confidence in the crypto industry over the last 6 months, the number is even higher for those in the MENA region, reaching 87%.

90% of global finance leaders anticipate big impacts on business from blockchain and digital assets in the next three years. In terms of tokenization,they see the most massive impact in public stock trading and private share trading. This was especially expressed by finance decision makers with cryptocurrency experience in MENA.

In addition, global finance decision makers predict CBDCs and stablecoins will have a massive impact across business, finance  and society. This sentiment is particularly strong among  those with cryptocurrency experience, and those based in the LATAM and MENA regions.

When the Ripple report compared these results to last year’s survey, they saw that no only do  more respondents expect significant or massive impact of digital currency on business, finance and society,but they expect this to happen within a shorter period of time.

In other words, impact from these digital currency technologies is and will continue to accelerate at a faster clip. Specifically, respondents appear particularly bullish on the overall impact of digital currencies on payments. Nearly half (46%) of all respondents think stablecoins will have the largest impact on cross-border payments, and anticipate the largest impact of CBDCs to be on consumer-to-business payments (39% of financial institutions) and cross-border payments (41% of enterprises).

Many are either somewhat or very likely to begin using cryptocurrencies, CBDCs or stablecoins in their business in the next three years, and are confident that the technologies can meet their business needs. Once again, Ripple saw that respondents in  LATAM and MENA ranked slightly higher than those in other regions, and particularly those decision makers at financial institutions who work in roles related to digital transformation, blockchain/cryptocurrency, and innovation.

Overall, Latin America (LATAM) is more bullish on enterprise and institutional use of crypto for business followed by the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), then North America (NA), Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA).

The report also noted that more financial institutions are interested in instituational DeFi due to pain points around borrowing, raising capital which many see that DeFi can help solve. In addition high interest rates currently outweight other borrowing related pain points by a pretty significant margin everywhere except in MENA, where credit approval requirements were ranked as the primary pain point.

According to the report, these findings are reflective of the current state of the global economy, and that’s reinforced when one compares these results to last year’s data when interest rates were lower, and thus ranked lower on the list at that time.

Another significant technology being looked into by financial decision makers is Decentralized digital identity (DID). The vast majority (90%) think DiD will have a significant or massive impact on Banking, Financial Services and Insurance in the next three years, especially finance leaders in LATAM and MENA.

Even those in treasury, capital markets, payments, and institutional banking are bullish on the technology as it pertains to Banking and Financial Services, falling within the 90% response rate and above for significant or massive impact. Surprisingly, finance leaders in those more traditional roles ranked slightly higher than those in innovation, which is somewhat counterintuitive.

When it came to crypto custody the report found that while a greater proportion of respondents at financial institutions (compared to their enterprise counterparts) currently use crypto custody in their business, in general across all respondents it was found that a total of 35% are currently using a custody solution and 54% plan to within the next three years. Additionally, most companies currently or planning to use crypto custody will do so via a managed custody approach outsourced to a third party.

The vast majority of global finance decision makers (upwards of 88%) believe that crypto and blockchain will have either a significant or massive impact on business, finance, and society over the next three years.

Over half of global respondents cited that they already have a cryptocurrency solution in place at their company, or are in the process of implementing one. Upwards of three-quarters indicate an openness to using or exploring other crypto technologies over the next few years (e.g. CBDCs, stablecoins,NFTs, etc.)

Despite the general positivity, uncertainty and barriers to adoption like privacy concerns, lack of clear regulation, risk management and price volatility are still present.

Cross-border payments and consumer-to-business payments are the top two most highly ranked use cases for both CBDCs and stablecoins.

Enterprises are particularly bullish on the use of NFTs for business in the metaverse and events/ticketing. Over 80% of global finance leaders are somewhat or very likely to use cryptocurrencies, CBDCs and/or stablecoins in their business in the next three years.

Ease of use is far and away the most important requirement for organizations to enable customers to pay with crypto. Faster payments/settlement times and cost savings are the biggest value propositions for incorporating crypto into cross-border payments for enterprises and payments/treasury professionals at financial institutions—regardless of region and level of familiarity with crypto.

Top reasons to hold a cryptocurrency are for use as a currency for making payments, and for use as a hedge against inflation.  Interest rates and cost-related concerns are key blockers for borrowing, raising capital, and making cross-border payments.

According to a survey of global institutional clients commissioned by BNY Mellon and conducted by Celent, 97% agree that tokenization will revolutionize asset management and be good for the industry. They also found that 88% of investors are comfortable utilizing a digital representation of currency like stablecoins or tokens.

The majority (72%) of finance decision makers expect to explore tokenization as a way to drive innovation over the next three years, especially those at financial institutions who currently have or are in the process of implementing a cryptocurrency solution at their organization.

In terms of assets that would benefit the most from tokenization 63% of respondents said online security of data, 50% said stocks.

A new report entitled, “Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the power of blockchain” published by Singapore Agile Dynamics, a research based consultancy services, blockchain technology will boost global gross domestic product (GDP) by US$2.1 trillion of the projected global GDP in 2030. Approximately half (49%) of the US$2.1 trillion will come from growth markets. This is especially important finding given the growth of blockchain implementation in the GCC and MENA region.

Countries such as Qatar, KSAUAE, and even Oman are building their capacities and use cases utilizing emergent technologies such as blockchain, AI, IoT and others, and their GDPs will be positively affected.

As per the report as well, customized layer 1 blockchain protocol offers potential benefits such as increased financial inclusion, reduced transaction costs, and improved transparency – all of which align with the concept of technology sovereignty. It empowers entities to have ownership and control of their data, while safeguarding their sovereignty, reducing dependence on external entities, being more competitive on the global stage, and both encouraging and supporting domestic technology companies.

The report also noted that as per the study, 73% of respondents consider that a reduction in operational costs will be one of the main advantages of blockchain technology. This is followed closely by 67% of respondents believing that a key advantage of blockchain will be improving speed and efficiency. Other advantages noted include improving security and privacy (55%), bringing innovation (50%), and financial processes (44%).

Agile Dynamics explores what the future of blockchain technology could look like, including next generation technology characteristics. The report maps out three stages of the blockchain technology maturity journey, which it names as Emerging Blockchain Technology, Next-Gen Blockchain, and Fourth Generation Chain. In the latter, a permissionless, decentralized, scalable blockchain protocol will be achieved. It will be focused on interoperability challenges, designed to provide the fastest and most efficient cross-chain interoperability, speed, scalability, and security. It will also integrate micro-validation and tokenization, amongst numerous other benefits.

Speaking on the report and its contents, Paul Lalovich, Managing Partner at Agile Dynamics, said: “The world of blockchain is evolving rapidly, and is becoming an increasingly vital component of our ultra-connected world. Our report demonstrates how blockchain could be the most effective solution to begin a technology sovereignty journey, thanks to its ability to support the concept through providing decentralisation, data ownership and privacy, open source principles, trust and security, interoperability and more. By leveraging blockchain, you have the ability for more control and autonomy over your technology infrastructure and systems. This reduces dependence on external entities, and helps to safeguard your sovereignty. Blockchain is also a distinct and cost-effect means to stimulate innovation and foster growth, particularly in an economic context, and it has been demonstrated to be more cost-effective than any other technology for building out a project with the highest forecasted compound annual growth rate through to 2030.”

Lalovich continued: “Agile Dynamics is committed to helping organizations to harness the power of technology, to achieve digital transformation and to create differentiation by applying technology in a practical business context. We use deep insights derived from data, as demonstrated in ‘Disrupt and Innovate: Harness the Power of Blockchain’, in combination with extensive experience across industries and applications to help our clients realize business opportunities for growth.”

World Economic Forum report entitled “  Pathways to the Regulation of Crypto-Assets”  says UAE crypto asset regulatory framework is an agile one,  defining it as flexible, iterative and proactive which is beneficial because it is flexible, appreciate market maturity and ecosystem development.

According to the WEF report, regulators that fall under this model include the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority. FINMA’s token classification prescribes three simple categories: payment tokens, utility tokens and asset tokens. The framework acknowledges hybrid tokens and that a token’s classification may change over time. Following the first classification, FINMA later also published further guidance in

Also included as per the report are the regulatory sandboxes in the EU and India in addition to the UAE. 

Instead of prescribing and enforcing rules, agile regulation adopts a responsive, iterative approach, acknowledging that policy and regulatory development is no longer limited to governments but is increasingly a multi-stakeholder effort. Yet it also faces challenges that include the need for coordination and collaboration being as well plagued with uncertainty. 

Regulatory sandboxes, guidance and regulators’ no-objection letters are all forms of agile regulation that enable the testing of new types of solutions, iterating policy frameworks based on ecosystem evolution and industry needs.

The report sets out to understand and highlight the needs and challenges in developing a global approach to crypto-asset regulation. In doing so, it delves into the various regulatory approaches being adopted by different jurisdictions.

The report developed rankings for each regulatory framework. The rankings covered four areas when analyzing regulatory frameworks and found that the agile regulatory framework is best at promoting innovation. Agile regulatory framework ranks in the middle ground for providing certainty for businesses, addressing data gaps and enforcement effectiveness.

The report finds for example that Regulation by enforcement which the USA falls under is weak in all the above mentioned areas except for enforcement effectiveness.

As per the report the UAE has not only initiated a license regime for crypto assets, but has also carried out consultation for decentralized applications such as DeFi, and DAOs.

In addition the report mentions that few jurisdictions have chosen to address the difficulty of classifying tokens, partially relying instead on the functionality enabled by the token.

For example, Liechtenstein has chosen not to rely solely on classifications but to introduce the token as such as an element in Liechtenstein Law, meaning that the right or asset represented in the token triggers the application of special laws (the so-called “token container model”). This means that the tokenization as such has no legal effect: if a financial instrument is tokenized, the financial market laws are applicable if the activity is regulated, too; if a commodity is tokenized, the laws for commodity trading might be applicable; and so on. For new instruments, such as utility coins and virtual currencies, a new regulation has to be defined.

While in the UAE, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority in Dubai has put forth a framework that is underpinned by overarching regulations and compulsory rulebooks, segregating activities-based rulebooks to rapidly account for novel products, emerging technologies, and new business models that require regulatory capture.

The paper’s findings reinforce the urgent need for policymakers and regulators to collaborate with industry and users to realize the benefits while addressing the risks involved.

Enforcement is still weak globally. For example in the context of AML supervision of crypto-assets, a Bank for International Settlements (BIS) 2021 survey found that oversight remained nascent globally. As stated, “Although many are at different stages, with some countries still finalizing applicable law and policy and a small portion engaging in active supervision, by and large effective enforcement measures remain a work in progress. The result is a complex tapestry of enforcement trends as well as enforcement risks posed by the cross-jurisdictional influence of crypto-assets.”

Even when it comes to the FATF travel rule implementations are also limited. As noted in FATF’s June 2022 targeted update report, interoperability across technical solutions and across jurisdictions is still lacking.

WEF report as such notes that such fragmented enforcement techniques will pose a challenge to the supervision and monitoring of crypto-assets against regulations in the short term and may take many years to standardize.

The report recommends promoting a harmonized understanding of taxonomy/classification of crypto assets and activities, set out best practices and baseline regulatory standards for achieving the desired regulatory outcomes and encourage passportability of entities and data sharing.

Building on this foundational paper, the World Economic Forum’s Blockchain and Digital Assets team will launch an initiative focused on evaluating the outcomes of different regional approaches to regulation. This effort will convene public- and private-sector leaders to reveal first-hand learning’s and the unintended consequences.

But not everyone shares the WEF reports belief that International crypto regulations and standards are possible.  During the Qatar Economic Forum this week, Peter Smith Co-Founder and CEO of rejected claims of a “United Nations” of crypto as inconceivable. He stated, “A global system to regulate cryptocurrency is unlikely to exist.”

However, the Blockchain chief recalled the recent EU passing of the world’s first comprehensive package as a step forward in cautiously regulating the cryptocurrency industry. In addition, Smith told Bloomberg that regulators that express optimistic calls to crypto would promote development for the industry.

So whether a global harmonic set of crypto assets regulations are formulated or whether regional and national countries work to build their own, the growth of crypto assets cannot be curved by regulators. 

Crypto Oasis launched its crypto Oasis report for Q2 of 2023 announcing the Green Block initiative as part of its commitment to the UAE’s Environmentally Sustainable goals. This comes as the UAE hosts the COP28 in December 2023.

Crypto Oasis, a blockchain ecosystem fostering innovation in the UAE, has witnessed a significant growth in the blockchain crypto ecosystem in the UAE.

In its second edition of the Crypto Oasis Ecosystem report for Q2 2023, it noted that there were now over 1,800 organizations in the blockchain and crypto industry within the country with over 8,650 employees working in crypto blockchain, metaverse, and Web3 ecosystem.

The numbers are up from the ones shared in Crypto Oasis’s annual report of 2022 published in October. At that time there were 1,400 blockchain and crypto entities in the country employing 7000 people. This shows that 400 new entities registered their companies in the UAE over the past 8 months employing an extra 1,650 people in the sector.

In Crypto Oasis Q2 2023 report, native organizations made up 70.5% of total blockchain crypto entities, while in October 2022 report they stood at 66%. There has been an increase of 4.5% of native entities in just 8 months. Dubai’s DMCC is still home to the majority of blockchain and crypto entities with 600 registered companies, followed by Dubai Economic Department with 420 plus, and IFZA freezone with 200 and DIFC with 110. 

The Crypto Oasis report was published in partnership with DLT Science Foundation and Roland Berger.

To build on the successes of the past years, Crypto Oasis announced in their report the launch of a new initiative, the “Green Block”, an ecosystem for the ESG (Economic Sustainable Goals) part of Web3 to foster a sustainable future by bringing together innovators and entrepreneurs to develop and implement solutions that promote environmental sustainability and social responsibility.

The Green Block focuses on promoting, leading, and connecting this part of the industry to align with the goals of the UAE.

Saqr Ereiqat, Co-Founder of Crypto Oasis told LaraontheBlock, “We will be launching the Green Block initiative formally during the Future Blockchain Summit in Dubai being held in October. Since this is a UAE centric report and one of the primary themes of the country this year is ESG we follow suit in our report and are currently working on the Green Block initiative in Web3 for COP28.”

Blockchain technology holds particular promise in the fight against climate change for three key reasons: it can amplify voluntary carbon markets to channel billions of dollars towards green investments, facilitate the widespread adoption of parametric insurance for climate events and accelerate development of open data infrastructure necessary to help coordinate global actors.

The TRIPLE A January 2023 crypto ownership country report noted that the number of cryptocurrency users has increased since January 2022. In January 2023 there were 420 million crypto owners globally; this is up from their previous report in January 2022 where they had stated there were 300 million crypto owners globally. In the Arab world biggest growth was seen in Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon, Tunisia, and even Iraq. 

More interesting is that if we compare the percentage of crypto owners in the Arab world between January 2022 and January 2023 in some countries the increase is exponential.

For example in Jan 2022 2.38% of Moroccan population owned crypto, by January 2023 this number had increased to 4.9% an increase of more than 2% in one year. The same goes for Egypt, Tunisia, and Lebanon were the increase was also significant.

CountryJan 2022 Crypto Ownership %Jan 2023 crypto ownership %Crypto Ownership Population 2023
Saudi Arabia1.31.6592,351

In another recent CoinGecko report, Lebanon placed first in the rankings as the country most interested in AI crypto, scoring the highest of 100 for almost all the search terms, resulting in a total score of 1,200. The 21.6% share in AI crypto search interest suggests that the Lebanese crypto community is keen to trade on trends like the pumping prices of AI tokens. Other Arab countries curious about crypto AI included UAE, followed by Kuwait and Qatar.

One can also go back to Chainalysis report in October 2022, where Middle East & North Africa (MENA) was the fastest growing region. MENA-based users received $566 billion in cryptocurrency from July 2021 to June 2022, 48% more than they received the year prior. The top three countries at that time were Morocco, Egypt, Lebanon and Turkey. This is once again mirrored in the stats showcased in this article. 

According to a report by ResearchAndMarkets, the NFT industry in the UAE is  expected to grow steadily, recording a CAGR of 32.1% during 2022-2028. The NFT Spend Value in the country will increase from US$982.1 million in 2022 to reach US$ 4.746.3 million by 2028.

As per the report the non-fungible token (NFT) scene is growing as more and more entrepreneurs, businesses, and celebrities enter the fast-growing industry. Like the rest of the world, the UAE market is also rapidly adopting NFTs.

The report notes that over the last 12 months, several innovative NFT marketplaces have also emerged in the country, which has made it relatively simpler for the general public to buy, sell, and trade in NFTs. From NFT-based startups to cryptocurrency exchanges, several players are entering the UAE NFT market; the presence of several NFT marketplaces has also supported the rise in NFT trading transaction value and volume, the trend expected to gain further momentum over the next three to four years in the UAE.

Already the NFT market is witnessing a resurgence in 2023. Digital ownership continues in 2023 with $256.69 million in non-fungible token (NFT) sales over the last seven days up to January 22nd 2023,  according to statistics from This represents a 16.39% increase from the previous week’s NFT sales and includes 1,355,376 NFT transactions. A total of 320,580 buyers participated in the market activity, a 43.48% increase from the prior week.

The rise of blockchain-based gaming is expected to drive NFT market growth in the UAE. With blockchain-based gaming, people are frequently awarded cryptocurrencies or NFTs for participating in gaming tournaments. This explains why the Abu Dhabi government-backed AD Gaming program has entered into a strategic collaboration with local crypto platforms such as Attarius Network, which attempts to increase the chances of blockchain-based gaming. The collaboration aims to create a participatory and collaborative NFT ecosystem for gamers.

For example GLEAC, an Abu Dhabi Hub71 entity announced the launch of the world’s first utility NFT, called Lovely Humans that allows users one-on-one time with global industry experts for five hours. The winning bidder can use the time with the industry expert to gain work-related knowledge and advice, solve problems or even try to co-create a new project that can be monetised. The knowledge gained from the discussion can also be minted into a utility NFT that could be co-owned by the buyer and the industry expert. The first round of bidding will include a group of 25 experts from industries including Fintech, Metaverse, Sustainability, Data, and others.

In addition UAE based Farming Online launched its NFT marketplace on UAE’s 51st National Day at Gracia Farm under the theme you farm on the internet we farm on the ground. Gracia Group is an innovative model of future farming, created by an Emirati entrepreneur Hamed Al Hamed to influence and change the agricultural sector. 

Rolls-Royce has unveiled its latest Bespoke Series Phantom ‘The Six Elements’ as NFTs in UAE. This unique project features six one-of-a-kind Phantom Extended Series II cars, each featuring a commissioned hand-painted artwork by world-renowned British artist Sacha Jafri. The cars were designed and crafted by the Bespoke Collective at the Home of Rolls-Royce at Goodwood in collaboration with the resident Bespoke designer in the Rolls-Royce Private Office in Dubai.

The project has raised over $1 million for charity. The project, initiated by Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Dubai and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars Abu Dhabi, began in late 2020 and has taken two years to complete.

The use of NFTs in the “The Six Elements” series allows each car to have its own unique digital token, which can be sold independently to raise funds for charity. This represents a new way for luxury car manufacturers to use blockchain technology for philanthropy and could potentially open up new opportunities for collaboration between artists, car manufacturers, and collectors.