DUBAI’S VARA issues specialised regulations for Bitcoin & virtual assets

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CA Amarakoon Susantha
CA Amarakoon Susantha

AM Susantha is an experienced Tax Advisor at NAM Accountants in Dubai, with expertise in corporate and international taxation. He offers tailored tax solutions that align with clients' financial goals.

Dubai’s Virtual Asset Regulatory Authority (VARA) has recently released its Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023, which outline a comprehensive framework for virtual assets (VA) based on principles of economic sustainability and cross-border financial security. This move demonstrates the UAE’s commitment to updating its oversight and regulatory approach to address global risks associated with money laundering and terrorist financing.

The VA Framework is designed to provide regulatory certainty and clarify the expected level of responsibility for operators in the market. It also requires licensed entities within the Emirate to adhere to gold-standard risk assurance and Anti-Money Laundering (AML) standards.

His Excellency Helal Saeed Almarri, Director General Dubai’s Department of Economy & Tourism, and Chairman of VARA’s Executive Board, expressed his confidence in the VA framework, stating that it is aligned with Dubai’s D33 Economic Plan to establish the Emirate as the capital of the Future Economy anchored by Metaverse, AI, Web3.0, and Blockchain.

VARA, as the only independent and specialist regulator for Virtual Assets, aims to facilitate VA-associated economic stability, investor protection, and jurisdictional resilience across the Emirate of Dubai (except DIFC). The new regulations cover seven licensed VA activities, including Advisory services, Broker-Dealer services, Custodial services, Exchange services, Lending-Borrowing services, Payments and Remittances services, and VA Management and Investment services.

VARA will provide existing and new market entrants with a route towards full licensing, and all VASPs offering VA services to the Dubai market must register with VARA and become fully compliant with the final rules. The full Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023 can be accessed on

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