UAE's Ras Al Khaimah to Launch Free Zone for Virtual Asset Companies
Ras Al Khaimah, one of the UAE's seven Emirates, is set to launch a free zone dedicated to digital and virtual asset companies. The new free zone, RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO), aims to create a hub for non-regulated activities in the virtual assets sector. This move comes as the UAE continues to attract global players in the crypto industry, positioning itself as a forward-thinking hub for crypto firms.
RAK DAO will provide a dedicated space for digital and virtual asset service providers operating in emerging technologies, such as the metaverse, blockchain, utility tokens, virtual asset wallets, nonfungible tokens (NFTs), decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized applications (DApps), and other Web3-related businesses. The free zone is expected to start with non-financial activities before introducing financial activities at a later stage.
Entrepreneurs looking to launch a crypto exchange may have to wait as this is an ESCA-regulated financial activity. The Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA) is one of the UAE's main financial regulators, and it has authority throughout the Emirates, except for the financial free zones such as the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
The new free zone will add to the more than 40 multidisciplinary free zones in the country that have already attracted numerous crypto, blockchain, and Web3 firms. These include the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), DIFC, and the ADGM.
As part of the UAE's efforts to create a friendlier regulatory environment for crypto firms, Dubai unveiled its virtual assets law in March 2022, along with the Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority. This was followed by the Financial Services Regulatory Authority's guiding principles on regulating and overseeing the new asset class and its service providers in September 2022.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Humaid bin Abdullah Al Qasimi, the chairman of the RAK International Corporate Centre, the operator of the new free zone, expressed excitement about the project, saying, "We are building the free zone of the future for companies of the future. As the world's first free zone solely dedicated to digital and virtual asset companies, we look forward to supporting the ambitions of entrepreneurs from around the world."
The establishment of RAK DAO is a strategic move for the UAE as it seeks to cement its position as a global leader in the crypto industry. By creating a regulatory environment that is friendly to crypto firms, the UAE aims to attract more players in the industry and foster innovation in the emerging technologies sector.