Dubai’s DMCC opens Crypto Centre to tap into blockchain's potential

The development will house all types and sizes of crypto businesses, including companies developing blockchain-enabled trading platforms

Guests during the opening of Crypto Centre at Almas Tower in JLT in Dubai on May 24,2021. Pawan Singh / The National. Story by Alkesh
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The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre has set up a new space that will house companies developing crypto and blockchain technology.

The Crypto Centre is the result of a partnership with Switzerland’s CV Labs, the organisation behind the Swiss government-backed Crypto Valley.

It is part of the free zone’s own Crypto Valley – an ecosystem for cryptographic, blockchain and distributed ledger technology entities in the UAE.

“This is a fantastic new development. Crypto and blockchain technology has enormous potential to transform global trade and supply chains ... and this aligns perfectly with the DMCC’s vision to drive the future of trade,” said Ahmad Hamza, free zone executive director at the DMCC.

“Over the next few weeks and months, we will see this centre filled with [companies] ... looking to scale up their crypto businesses,” he said.

He did not disclose the number of entities that DMCC expects to attract to the centre.

The DMCC, which presides over companies involved in the trade of commodities that range from pulses to diamonds, registered 2,050 new companies last year, a five-year high for the free zone.

The centre will house all types of crypto businesses, from those that develop blockchain-enabled trading platforms to companies that offer, issue, list and trade crypto assets.

Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of States for Foreign Trade speaking during the opening of Crypto Centre at Almas Tower in JLT in Dubai on May 24,2021. Pawan Singh / The National. Story by Alkesh
Thani Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Minister of State for Foreign Trade, speaks during the official launch of the DMCC's Crypto Centre on Monday. Pawan Singh / The National

Founded in January last year, the Crypto Valley supports early-stage start-ups through incubators and offers co-working space, training in blockchain and entrepreneurship, innovation services for corporate clients, mentoring programmes and funding.

Blockchain – the technology behind cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin – is a digital chain of transactions linked by cryptography, a mechanism for secure communications, on an open ledger. The database is a real-time library of records that are difficult to tamper with as each change creates a new record.

Blockchain spending in the Middle East and Africa has grown at a compound rate of more than 70 per cent since 2016 and is set to reach $307 million this year, according to the US-based International Data Corporation.

“The DMCC Crypto Centre will be a home to a comprehensive system designed for innovators, entrepreneurs and pioneers in the fields of crypto and blockchain technology ... it will support all types of crypto businesses,” said Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade.

“Blockchain technology can help transform and optimise business processes ... [add] greater transparency, enhanced security, increased efficiency and speed and reduce costs in business transactions,” he said.

The UAE is among the early movers that have tapped into the potential of blockchain. The Emirates Blockchain Strategy 2021, announced three years ago, aims to switch about half of government transactions on to a blockchain platform by end of this year.

View of the Crypto Centre at Almas Tower in JLT in Dubai on May 24,2021. Pawan Singh / The National. Story by Alkesh
The centre offers co-working space, meeting rooms and whole office suites. Pawan Singh / The National

By adopting blockchain, the country is expected to save Dh11 billion in transaction and regular document processing costs, 77 million work hours and remove the need for 398 million printed documents a year.

Dubai’s Crypto Centre is expected to outperform many of the leading blockchain spaces in the next 18 months, said Ralf Glabischnig, founder and board member of CV VC, parent company of CV Labs.

“Dubai did a great job last year and the whole world is looking at its rapid technology progress. Everyone wants to be a part of Dubai’s technology journey,” he said.

“With strong backing from the government, as well as great interest from its flourishing business sectors, Dubai is poised to emerge as a global hotspot and leader for innovative blockchain companies and applications.”

CV VC, which runs co-working spaces in the Swiss city of Zug, Vadus in Liechtenstein and Dubai houses more than 130 of the leading blockchain projects worldwide.