OKX is the latest crypto exchange with plans to build out a foothold in Dubai after gaining regulatory approval to serve customers in the United Arab Emirates.
The Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) granted OKX a provisional virtual assets license, the company revealed Thursday, allowing it to offer certain exchange products and services to pre-qualified investors and financial service providers in the region.
“Dubai and UAE leadership have embraced blockchain technologies and continue to invest heavily in the crypto ecosystem,” Lennix Lai, general manager OKX Dubai, told Blockworks in an email. “For OKX, it’s a natural partner jurisdiction and a long-term play, where we can attract high-quality talent and serve an engaged international crypto audience.”
Dubai revealed its first cryptocurrency legislation in March, as the emirate granted virtual asset licenses to FTX and Binance that month.
More recently, Crypto.com and Hong Kong-based crypto custodian Hex Trust gained regulatory approval to conduct business in the region in June.
Kraken also revealed plans to expand to the UAE in April, but, unlike some of its competitors, opted for neighboring emirate Abu Dhabi instead of Dubai.
“The UAE has a high concentration of crypto natives and sophisticated traders,” Lai said. “OKX [wants] to galvanize this constituency and support responsible trading behaviors.”
Founded in 2017, crypto trading app OKX has more than 20 million global customers in roughly 180 international markets. The company plans to recruit more than 100 employees in the UAE and seeks to partner with local players in the sector.
The expansion to a new region comes after OKX revealed last month that it plans to increase headcount by 30%, growing by 1,500 people to about 5,000 over the next 12 months. The exchange is targeting professionals in product design, engineering and marketing as its main focus shifts to building a leading brand in the space.