Abu Dhabi grants Kraken license to operate crypto exchange

Kraken has become the first crypto exchange to be granted a license to operate a regulated digital assets platform in Abu Dhabi as the Middle East becomes a focus of expansion for the industry.

The exchange will count Abu Dhabi as its regional hub, having had its license granted by the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the regulatory body said in a release on Monday

The exchange will allow its more than 8 million global users to invest, trade, withdraw and deposit virtual assets directly in dirhams. 

It is the latest in a sea shift of companies looking to the UAE for regulatory approval.

In March, Dubai unveiled its new agency, VARA, tasked with virtual asset regulation as its leadership looks to solidify the city’s position in the emerging global digital economy. Shortly after, Binance said that it had been granted a virtual asset license in Dubai, as well as has in-principle approval from ADGM to operate as a broker-dealer in virtual assets.

Binance's approval in Dubai followed hot on the heels of FTX. The exchange operator said it would plan its regional headquarters in the Emirati city.