Zero Two, and Marathon Digital Holdings, Joint entity based out of ADGM Abu Dhabi for crypto mining has inaugurated  the state of the art 200 MW Bitcoin mining facility at Masdar Abu Dhabi. The announcement was made in a LinkedIn post by Pierre Sematies, Partner at Roland Berger and Global Head of Digital assets.

He stated, “Today Zero Two inaugurated a state-of-the-art 200MW Bitcoin Mining Facility with Marathon Digital Holdings at Masdar. The quality of the facility and the pace at which it was built and energized are very impressive.” He congratulated the teams of both Zero Two and Marathon Digital, as well as Roland Berger Digital asset team who were part of this journey in the early days.

Prior to this Marathon Digital Holdings had confirmed that the company along with Abu Dhabi based Zero Two (Registered name FS Innovation), an emerging blockchain and digital assets infrastructure development company, will be launching the two digital asset mining sites with a combined capacity of 250 Megawatts in the sustainability hub of Abu Dhabi Masdar City and the port zone of Mina Zayed by the end of 2023.

The joint entity registered in ADGM will work to accelerate the global digital economy while supporting the power grid of Abu Dhabi, JV) with the first large-scale immersion Bitcoin mining operations in the Middle East. To power the sites, Marathon and Zero Two intend to leverage excess energy in Abu Dhabi, increasing the base load and sustainability of the Abu Dhabi grid. Marathon and Zero Two will offset any non-sustainably produced electricity with clean energy certificates.

The equity ownership in the ADGM Entity will be 80% for Zero Two and 20% for Marathon.

This announcement comes as Oman moves strongly forward with its crypto mining projects.

Dfinity Foundation a major contributor to the Internet Computer Platform (ICP) blockchain and a Swiss-based not-for-profit organization with the largest R&D team in blockchain is making waves in the MENA and Asian region with partnerships such as with Roland Berger on UAE launched Voluntary recycling credits, as well as a $20 million grant to Asian startups and grants to MENA based startups such as ChainSight, an inter-chain data processing network to be able to use on-chain data with smart contracts.

The Internet Computer is a general-purpose, layer one blockchain that acts as a Cloud 3.0. The network has been operating for over two years, and has grown its daily transactions size to over 750 million, a 425% increase from its first year of operation. Notably, Dfinity Foundation asserts that its service has been provided with zero downtime.

Partnership with UAE Recycling Project

Most recently Roland Berger, a global strategic management consultancy firm with a strong presence in MENA selected Switzerland-based Dfinity Foundation as the technology partner for the development of the ‘Voluntary Recycling Credits’ standard announced by UAE’s BEEAH Group  with Roland Berger and the International Solid Waste Association.

As per their announcement the three companies aim to develop a new standard powered by the blockchain that can help beef up recycling numbers in the waste sector. As such businesses with sparse recycling infrastructure who are keen on aligning with Sustainable Development Goals can buy credits on the forthcoming marketplace. These credits are provided by companies with surplus recycling capabilities. Meanwhile, the flow of funds will free up more money to boost investment in further enhancement and emerging recycling technologies.

“We have a unique opportunity to redefine waste management and make tangible strides in environmental stewardship,” said Hani Tohme, managing partner at Roland Berger in the Middle East.

The Voluntary Recycling Credits standard is being built on blockchain technology. According to the initiators, blockchain is a “foundational element critical to the success” of the standard, guaranteeing a transparent, auditable, and secure record of recycling credits and transactions. “This transparency ensures that all parties – whether waste producers or recyclers – can trust in the veracity of the credits they purchase, sell, or trade.”

“Selecting the right blockchain technology that harmoniously balances decentralization, security, usability and storage space is key for a project of this importance. We are happy to have selected Dfinity Foundation as our technology partner. The Internet Computer is one of the most advanced blockchains in the world, its efficacy and security make it the perfect platform to build this project on,” said Pierre Samaties, partner at Roland Berger.

“We are honored to have been selected by the Roland Berger team to collaborate on the Voluntary Recycling Credit. This initiative aligns with the core values of our team at Dfinity and Internet Computer, as we always look to ensure the blockchain remains at the forefront of sustainability and work with leading enterprises,” said Dominic Williams, Founder of Dfinity Foundation.

Through the partnership, Dfinity Foundation will develop the underlying technology for standard. The first milestone will take place at COP28 in Dubai, when the private-public coalition behind the standard will display the first-ever live recycling credits transaction.

Launch of ICP Hub GCC

As part of Dfinity’s efforts to support the ICP blockchain platform, ICP Hub GCC has been launched to support the growth of the ICP ecosystem in the GCC ( Gulf Cooperation Council) region as well as the in MENA region.

Saed Ereiqat, Co-Founder of ICP Hub GCC tells LaraontheBlock, “The UAE is undoubtedly amongst the most advanced countries to deploy and develop on Web3 and Blockchain. It was therefore only a matter of time, that the ICP.Hub GCC launched in the UAE, where it is accelerating the mass adoption of the Internet Computer Protocol in the Gulf Region.”

As per Saed the ICP.HUB GCC has ambitious plans in the region as a community based project aiming to empower users and providing a robust platform for the development and hosting of secure software systems and open internet services.

ICP.HUB GCC is supported by Dubai based Crypto Oasis while partnering with UAE VC firm Cypher Capita. .Together with local Education Institutes, the hub aims to further raise awareness and provide education for young developers and entrepreneurs to learn about Blockchain and how to effectively apply it for future-ready developments. Investors are offered an opportunity to invest in the rapidly expanding Ecosystem and projects therein.

Through its grant program UAE based ChainSight an inter-chain data processing network to be able to use on-chain data with smart contracts.  ChainSight gains financial and technical support and with the connection to the hub, they are also provided with community support and communities to raise awareness for their development.

While Qatar has not opened up to the crypto scene, its financial center is opening up to digital assets enabling them to tokenize asset classes to facilitate the needs of qualified investors with its digital assets framework.

Henk Jan Hoogendoorn, Chief Financial Sector Officer, at Qatar Financial Center Authority speaking to Lara on the Block, stated, “ We are developing our digital assets framework to allow for public tokenization of assets, including securities, bonds, and real-estate.”

He emphasizes that they will not go into crypto, NFTs (Non Fungible Tokens) or commodities at this time.

Hoogendoorn had discussed digitization in the financial sector in Qatar as well as their digital assets project and the new Fintech strategy of QCB (Qatar Central Bank) during a fireside chat on Digitizing the Financial Sector in Qatar, moderated by Robert Wigley OStJ, BSc, Hon DBA.

Furthermore, Aleksander Biesaga, Acting Project Manager, Roland Berger in a recent LinkedIn post noted, “It was a pleasure to speak to the Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority on unlocking a new era of ownership, trading and investment via digital assets and tokenization.”

He was referring to the workshop by Roland Berger on the new digital assets framework for Qatar Financial Centre (QFC) Authority and Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA).

Both entities QFC, and QFCRA, according to Hoogendoorn are developing and will facilitate the needs of qualified investors and investment firms to tokenize asset classes. He states, “We are looking forward to become a jurisdiction of choice.”

So it seems that while Qatar may not be warming up to crypto, it is moving forward  with its blockchain strategy and digital assets. In Q1 the Qatar Financial Authority signed an MOU with Blockchain entity Settlemint to forward digital asset industry and with R3 Blockchain firm for DLT (Distributed Ledger technology)  

Crypto mining is an integral part of the development of crypto economies. As the MENA region opens up its economy to digitization and crypto-related activities and as the world is challenged by an ongoing energy crisis, MENA is probing to become an attractive destination for crypto mining.

While the biggest crypto mining markets are currently in the USA, China, Kazakhstan and Canada, the energy crisis and the crypto bear market could help the GCC become a leading crypto mining hub.

Mohamed El Masri, founder and CEO of Permianchain, which operates Bitcoin mining data centers in Canada using wasted energy, states, “The adoption and implementation of blockchain data center infrastructure can support the digital stability and financial security of the GCC region. Hypothetically, the GCC has the opportunity to attract close to $1.0 trillion in economic growth by laying the groundwork for powering the digital economy.”

El Masri confirms the main challenge is calling out the financial regulators, mainly in the financial free zones, to stop taking the “enforceability approach” and take a “regulate-first approach.”

Nonrenewable resources to boost mining 

El Masri also mentions that given that the GCC is an oil and gas-rich region, there is an abundance of natural gas energy being wasted each day. Notably, such gas energy supports the implementation and commissioning of low-cost power plants to attract bitcoin mining companies from all over the world to set up in the region.

According to him, this will allow the region to become a leader in providing field-generated electricity “to power the future digital economy all while reducing emissions and decarbonizing the GCC’s oil and gas sector.”

The World Bank has reported that the MENA region accounted for 40% of the world’s flaring, with Iran, Iraq and Algeria generating 75% of MENA’s flaring. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE and Qatar have low flaring intensity.

Adopting new technologies

Munaf Ali, founder and CEO of UAE-based Phoenix Group, involved in crypto mining equipment sales and projects, believes MENA is fast moving toward crypto and blockchain adoption.

“The Middle East is fast helping the global diversification of jurisdictions which are friendly to operate in,” Ali states. “This goes for countries where crypto firms can set up, whether they are crypto exchanges or mining operations.”

Ali confirms that GCC governments have started to address this by recognizing these new business activities and are issuing licenses to crypto market participants.

The Phoenix CEO espoused other benefits, including job creation, the development of a green renewable energy industry, and the generation of crypto/USD for circulation inside the local economy which in turn boosts economic activity.

Growing interest in mining

UAE investment firms have also shown interest in crypto mining investments. Nabyl Al Maskari, executive chairman of Al Maskari Holding, in a panel discussion during the Security Token Summit in June 2022, noted that there will be significant crypto mining investments happening in the UAE.

“We will have significant crypto-mining investments because the UAE is a low-cost energy producer,” Al Maskari certifies. “We are in the solar belt and have nuclear power with two reactors online. We can as such mine green Bitcoin or other tokens that come out.”

During Binance Week 2022, Khalifa AlJaziri, AlShehhi, Commercial Affairs Regulatory Sector Projects advisor at the Ministry of Economy in UAE, claimed that the Dubai World Trade Center Authority (DWTCA) would be legislating the crypto mining sector. He stated, “We are setting the guidelines and rules needed to regulate crypto mining within this crypto framework.

The UAE is not the only country that has shown interest in crypto mining. Oman Investment Authority (OIA) took part in a $350mn equity round in Crusoe Energy Systems. The US firm helps oil and gas producers cut flaring by using stranded natural gas to power cryptocurrency mining. Crusoe systems set up operations in Oman as well. 

Pierre Samaties, global head of Crypto Economy and Energy, reaffirmed that Bitcoin mining in the region is growing.

“Given we have a huge difference between the summer load curve and the winter load curve, Bitcoin mining helps to support renewable energy investments to increase utilization of the asset by using it during downtimes for Bitcoin mining,” Samaties says. The executive says this helps to balance the energy system.

Samaties also affirms that Bitcoin mining is seen as a strategic asset, a cornerstone for building a crypto economy in the region.

For those who would like to read or share this article in arabic it is also on Cointelegraph MENA 

For the first time ever Abu Dhabi Finance week organized by ADGM in association with Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) will be holding Crypto Abu Dhabi on November 16th 2022.

Abu Dhabi Finance Week (ADFW)’, is set to run between 14th November 2022 and 18th November 2022.

As per the event synopsis, Crypto Abu Dhabi in partnership with Roland Berger, will explore the next era of Digital Assets as the technologies experience the growing pains involved with shaping true innovation. The agenda of the conference will focus on the underlying blockchain and cryptography technologies that drive the innovation, and why financial products are served by their application.

The event will also focus on how major global financial institutions are now developing digital asset strategies, and how the tokenization of private market assets will open up a new multi-trillion dollar democratized opportunity for investors globally, and why regulation is on the horizon.

Some renowned speakers include, Changpeng Zhao, Founder & CEO, Binance, Henri Arslanian, Co-founder and Managing Partner, Nine Blocks Capital Management, Brett Tejpaul, Head of Institutional, Coinbase, Jaime Leverton CEO, Hut 8 (Bitcoin Mining), Herve Francois, partner Private Equity, Blockchain and Digital Assets, at Investcorp among other well renowned names.

Dr. David Chaum, CEO and Co-Founder of Elixrr will also be speaking on the theory behind digital currency and why it is an essential evolution for the financial sector and where it goes from here, in Digital Money 2.0.

There will also include a special announcement by globally renowned Economist, Dr. Nouriel Roubini, Chairman of Roubini Macro Associates

Another interesting discussion will be on how key Abu Dhabi Financial institutions view digital assets which will be held by a panel led by crypto exchange Coinbase.

Commenting on the launch of ADFW, H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman, ADGM stated, “As I look back on the past successes of Fintech Abu Dhabi’s Editions, and head to what comes next, I see us amid an exciting transformational era. We are on the cusp of a new, digital future, and making progress on a continuum of highly significant and progressive economic challenges. Harnessing these exciting opportunities regionally and internationally is of prime importance to ADGM. This pioneering edition of the ADFW looks to achieve that and couldn’t have been timed better.”

UAE Crypto Oasis ecosystem published its first annual report entitled the “Crypto Ecosystem in the UAE” with the collaboration of Roland Berger. The report highlighted the growth that the UAE has witnessed in its blockchain crypto ecosystem which has resulted in the employment of 7000 people across 1400 blockchain crypto entities currently operating in the country.

As per the report the number of blockchain crypto organizations is more than 1400 in total where 66 percent are native organizations and 34 percent are non-native. Saqr Ereiqat, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Crypto Oasis Sentio, the investment arm of Crypto Oasis, told LaraontheBlock, “Based on the information we have the blockchain crypto ecosystem in UAE has employed approximately 7000 people.”

These 1,400 plus ventures are leveraging distributed ledger technologies and related technologies to build and provide new value propositions with Blockchain innovation. Interestingly the report confirms that the UAE is now home to 21 crypto exchanges including big names such as Binance and FTX who are now fully regulated under VARA (Dubai’s Virtual asset Regulatory Authority).

Another interesting finding in the report is the registered location of these blockchain and crypto entities. The majority 489 are based out of DMCC (Dubai Multi Commodities Centre) which was one of the first free zones to develop a crypto center. Interestingly IFZA (International Free zone Authority) houses 150 crypto and blockchain entities, while the Dubai World trade Centre, the home of VARA houses 48.

DeFi one of the biggest sectors in the blockchain crypto space is also mentioned in the report. As per the report DMCC has noted that the total value locked into DeFi protocols was $20 billion at the start of 2021 and increased exponentially to $260 billion by the end of the year.

It is also expected that the global DeFi market will hit $507.92 billion by 2028. The report notes that DeFi projects in the UAE include decentralized platforms that allow you to store, exchange or use assets. While the report mentions news where some platforms will allow POS terminals that will allows DeFi to reach the masses in the UAE.

The ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Market) recently opened its fifth regulatory laboratory sandbox program inviting fintech organization to pitch their ideas on decentralized applications. This is further stance than DFSA; the regulatory arm of DIFC has taken. DFSA recently came out with its crypto feedback statement where it notes that it will not be undertaking anything in DeFi so far.

Finally according to Roland Berger global survey it found that creating a crypto economy strategy is of high priority for 60 percent of executives. While the top three leading sectors in crypto are telco and tech, automotive, transport and logistics, and Construction & Real Estate.

Even before the UAE and specifically Dubai release their crypto mining regulations, companies have already started operating in the country. Recently 2Bminer, crypto mining hosting center with operations in the UAE, Czech Republic, and USA, signed a partnership agreement with UAE Seed Group, a company of the Private office of Sheikh Saeed Bin Ahmed Al Maktoum.

The announcement and the fact that 2Bminer is present in the UAE is not surprising. Prior to this, UAE-based Phoenix Technology Consultants signed a $650 million order for crypto mining rigs as part of its expansion plans in UAE and MENA region, while a UAE Sovereign wealth Fund is building one of the biggest crypto mining farms in the region under the strategic guidance of Roland Berger.

It would seem that 2BMiner is espousing its ecofriendly nature. As per 2Bminer website, their crypto mining machines mainly use hydro, wind and solar power. Sustainability is something that the UAE government is keen on. The company offers the sale of mining machines and as well as the placement of those machines in their centers and under their management. In short 2Bminer offers mining hosting services.

As per the press release, the agreement with UAE SEED group, SEED will help expand its operations in the Emirates and the wider Middle East, reach the right audience, access top decision-makers in the government as well as private sectors, and market their crypto mining products and services effectively in the region.  While 2Bminer will focus on transforming the crypto mining market of the UAE by providing the best machines, technical support, and global hosting centers to make the minting of cryptocurrencies easier and more profitable. 

Hisham Al Gurg, CEO of Seed Group and the Private Office of Sheikh Saeed bin Ahmed Al Maktoum, said: “As cryptocurrencies are becoming increasingly popular, people are eager to invest in them and make profits. The UAE wants to establish a crypto mining ecosystem, offering a growth-oriented environment to FinTech companies and world-class mining services to clients in the region itself. Companies offering mining equipment, hosting services, world-class facilities, and good returns to investors at globally competitive rates hold huge potential in the Emirates’ digital economy.”

Jakub Hlavenka, CEO,, said: “We are pleased to enter into a mutually beneficial partnership with SEED Group. The collaboration will help propel our business interests and goals in the MENA region through the group’s support and a strong base of regional connections. We are committed to providing the best platform for crypto mining in the region.”

This is not the first agreement SEED group has signed with Blockchain and crypto entities. Over the years, UAE SEED Group has announced many such partnerships examples include Ubirch, a German blockchain cyber security specialist, DiamondBack, creators diamondbacked stablecoin, DeepDive Technology, OwlTing for Blockchain ecommerce solutions for travel services, Aergo Foundation and Blocko, Fantom Foundation and Liquefy a security token solution provider.

Of those companies, Liquefy no longer seems to exist, DiamondBack has no presence in UAE nor does it seem to be active. As for Ubirch, they are in the UAE but no major announcements have been made thus far along the lines of their activities in the UAE.

As for OwlTing, it still seems to be active in China and Asia but no activities in the MENA region. Then there is Fantom Foundation which has seen some controversy over the past year despite its strong presence at Consensys 2022 and announcements that TrustWallet now supports Fantom.  

As for DeepDive, it has built partnerships in the UAE. It is a partner of UAE Bedu which encompasses an NFT factory, and metaverse solution provider. 

So in short, while SEED has partnered over the years with several entities in the Blockchain and crypto sector we have yet to see strong hanging fruits of these partnerships on the ground in the UAE. Even though some have managed to make some inroads. The recent one with 2Bminer might be a game changer for SEED, we will just have to wait and see.

It is big news when a leading global strategy and management consultancy firm like Roland Berger partners with UAE Crypto Oasis, a Middle East focused Blockchain Ecosystem supported by initiators of Crypto Valley Switzerland.

As per the announcement, Roland Berger will bring forward its talents and resources to propel the Blockchain ecosystem to new heights in the MENA region and globally. Roland Berger was one of the first to herald in a crypto economy advisory practice out of the UAE.

The partnership comes at a time when UAE Crypto Oasis is now targeting 1500 Blockchain crypto entities to enter the UAE after UAE reached the target of 1000 blockchain and crypto entities before the end of 2022.

Roland Berger has been working with several clients in the region. They are strategic advisors to the biggest blockchain crypto projects in the region including the largest Bitcoin mining facility in MENA as well as the set-up of a tokenized green asset exchange.

The combination of both Crypto Oasis disruptive ecosystem and Roland Berger’s strong association with governments and corporates and commercial and technical knowhow is explosive.

Pierre Samaties, one of the partners in charge of leading the global Crypto Economy team for Roland Berger, stated: “Crypto Oasis has a strong ecosystem network of organizations that are breakthrough innovators and are leapfrogging ahead. We have witnessed their explosive growth in the past few months. As we assist companies in their journey towards the crypto economy, it is vital to have access to the latest innovation and talent in this fast moving space”. “We believe that with Crypto Oasis’ core values of infrastructure, talent, and capital, we can integrate alliances in their unique Ecosystem and transform the crypto economy landscape” added Feroz Sanaulla, Partner and global Co-head of the Crypto Economy team.

“We are delighted to welcome Roland Berger as our newest global strategic partner”, commented Ralf Glabischnig, Founder of Crypto Oasis. “Our Ecosystem members will have access to their world-class management consultancy that will support them as they embrace the opportunities to transform their business and utilize Blockchain solutions. With Roland Berger’s strong presence among governments and corporations, we expect this partnership to help us develop meaningful connections with them. As they step further into the Blockchain economy we will be working together to release thought leadership reports to further educate and inform the market of this ever growing and evolving ecosystem”.

News spread in May 2022 that Central African President Faustin Archange Touadera was travelling to the UAE to oversee the launch the crypto mining company. This came after Central Africa affirmed Bitcoin as a legal tender in the country.

The website African Intelligence was the news platform that mentioned the President’s visit to UAE on May 12th 2022. LeMonde News platform stated that due to lack of infrastructure in Central African state, the mining company for Bitcoin would be located in Dubai.  Nothing else was reported on this, and no official comments were made on this by UAE officials. 

This comes at a time when VARA (Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority) in Dubai UAE, stated that it would be regulating crypto mining operations. Already a sovereign wealth fund in Abu Dhabi is building one of the world’s biggest crypto mining farms with strategic advisors, Roland Berger. 

In addition US Crusoe Energy, which mines Bitcoin using wasted natural gas expanded into the Middle East specifically Oman and UAE after it received investments from UAE Based Mubadala, sovereign Wealth Fund in Abu Dhabi and Oman investment Authority. The total investment received by Crusoe was 350 million. Crusoe as per an article in CoinDesk will initially open an office in Muscat Oman followed by an office in Abu Dhabi.