UAE establishes regulatory authority for digital assets

The Government of Dubai announced the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulation Law aimed at creating an advanced legal framework to protect investors and design international standards for virtual asset (VA) industry governance.

Under the law, the provisions of which are applicable throughout the Emirate, including special development zones and free zones, except for the Dubai International Financial Centre, the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) will be established. The authority has legal personality and financial autonomy and will be linked to the Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA).

“Approving the virtual asset law and establishing the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (DVARA) is a vital step that establishes the UAE’s position in this sector a step that aims to help the sector to grow and protect investors,” said Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Dubai’s ruler, in a statement.

The Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority will be responsible for licensing and regulating the sector across Dubai Mainland and Free Zone territories (exclusive of DIFC). The establishment of the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority comes as a part of the strategy of the Dubai Securities and Exchange Higher Committee.

Helal Saeed Al Marri, director-general of DWTCA, said that DVARA will provide a full range of VA services in coordination with the Central Bank of the UAE and the Securities and Commodities Authority.

Envisioned to anchor the world’s VA market leaders, credible institutional enablers, and innovation facilitators, the Dubai Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority will serve as the central custodial authority for this specialized industry.

The law defines the activities subject to VARA authorization as follows:

  • Operating and managing virtual assets platforms services
  • Exchange services between virtual assets and currencies, whether national or foreign
  • Exchange services between one or more forms of virtual assets
  • Virtual asset transfer services
  • Virtual asset custody and management services
  • Services related to the virtual asset portfolio
  • Services related to the offering and trading of virtual tokens


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