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Middle East Crypto on the Rise: Oman Doubles Down on Bitcoin Mining Efforts

Published August 21, 2023 5:33 PM
Omar Elorfaly
Published August 21, 2023 5:33 PM

Key Takeaways

  • Oman aims to develop a new hub for crypto mining in the middle east
  • Adjacent Middle Eastern nations continue to improve their regulatory frameworks
  • International crypto institutions will need to adapt their business operations to fit Middle Eastern regulations

Economically, Middle Eastern nations have thrived over time thanks to fossil fuel reserves. The precious resource has fueled economic, financial, and political development across these nations.

However, with an international shift toward renewable energy and sustainability, many Middle Eastern countries, such as the United Arab Emirates and Oman, are now shifting their economic powers towards the new age of trade.

Oman is now taking strides toward a shift to digital assets. The nation has recently announced  its hefty investment in processing machines and mining centers, signaling a new dawn of economics in the nation.

UAE Pushes Crypto Forward

As of April 17th, the Securities And Commodities Authority (SCA) AND UAE Central Bank started accepting  applications from companies intending to provide cryptocurrency services within the country. 

Furthermore, the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), described as “the world’s first, tailor-made Virtual Asset regime” released  its Full Market Product (FMP) Regulations.

The regulatory framework explains in detail how the government plans to govern crypto market conduct, licensing, company operations, and cybersecurity. Moreover, FMP regulations pinpoint regulations meant for VARA-licensed companies.

Now, the UAE is on the hunt for crypto institutions that deviate from VARA regulations, tightening up control of the industry to protect local customers. 

Dubai’s crypto regulator struck  a $2.7 million penalty on OPNX, a venture by Three Arrows Capital founders Kyle Davies and Su Zhu, for alleged violations in promoting virtual assets.

OPNX was found to collect personal information on Emirati customers, which is not permitted under VARA. As a result, OPNX was served  a cease and desist directive from the regulating body. 

However, OPNX UAE customers still found promotions and marketing messages from OPNX after the directive was served.

The United Arab Emirates and adjacent Middle Eastern nations such as Oman aim for an assertive entry into the digital asset space through a slew of vast investments and continuously updated market regulations.

$370 Million For Hosting & Mining

Engineer Said Hamoud, Oman’s Minister of Transport, Communications, and Information Technology (MTCIT), led the inauguration  of The Afaaq for Advanced Technologies data hosting and crypto mining center on August 13th. 

Implemented by Exahertz International, the center is valued at 135 million Omani Rials (about $370 million). The center is also the country’s second-largest venture into the space, with the first being Al-Madina Al-Khadraa, which is valued at around 150 million Omani Rials.

Engineer Hamoud highlighted the significance of the investments that total 285 Omani Rials as a “major milestone” in the country’s journey towards digital transformation. The minister also pointed out the potential for job creation following the emergence of the industry in the Middle Eastern country.

The minister also commented on Afaaq, calling it “a leading player in the data hosting and processing sector, and we are confident that they will be a valuable asset to Oman’s digital economy”.

Sam Ferdows, CEO of Moonwalk Systems and Strategic Partner of Exahertz International revealed  plans to create a wider network of blockchain-based data centers in Oman. He also stated that operations have already reached 11 megawatts of power and over 2,000 machines. Finally, he predicts operations will reach 15,000 machines by October to cover different centers around Oman.

Ferdows also states that the company will be providing knowledge and expertise as part of the implementation process.

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