Nine Blocks Relocates HQ to Dubai, First Crypto Hedge Fund to Obtain VASP License from VARA

Nine Blocks Capital Management has become the first crypto hedge fund to obtain a Virtual Asset Management and Investment Services license from Dubai’s Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), the company announced in a press release Monday.

The next global hub

Established in February 2022, the Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority serves as a regulating entity overseeing cryptocurrency activity across the city of Dubai. Alongside their historic licensing announcement, Nine Blocks also announced that they would be moving their headquarters to the emerging global crypto hub. 

“The Nine Blocks group was set-up in 2021 with the belief that institutional investors want digital assets exposure via fund managers who have established digital assets track record, are regulated, have traditional finance experience and comply with the highest operational due diligence requirements,” the company’s press release said in part. 

Nine Blocks’ announcement of relocation is just the latest in a series of crypto-related businesses opening up shop in the city of gold. 

Earlier this month, obtained its Virtual Assets Service Provider license (VASP) under VARA.

“Dubai continues to show it is a leading market when designing effective regulation for the crypto space while still supporting adoption and innovation,” said Kris Marszalek, CEO of

Dubai is booming

According to data from Chainalysis, The Middle East and North Africa boast nearly 7.2% of global transaction volume, with the region receiving over $389.8 billion in yearly on-chain value.

Kraken, OKX, and Binance have all established a presence in Dubai as well. Moreover, in June, Binance became the first digital asset exchange to acquire an Operation Minimum Viable Product (MVP) under VARA.

“The UAE’s embrace of blockchain technology has created a thriving industry with security and innovation as complementary assets at its core,” read a press release from Binance at the time.

Cracking down on crypto

Dubai’s pull on crypto-related business comes as regulators across North America crack down on the innovative industry. 

Most recently, Binance founder, Changpeng Zhao, pleaded guilty to a number of violations and stepped down from his role as CEO of the world’s largest crypto exchange.

According to US Attorney General Merrick Garland, Zhao admitted to “willfully violating the Bank Secrecy Act, knowingly failing to register as a money transmitting business, and willfully violating the International Emergency Economic Powers Act.”

As part of his settlement, Binance will have to pay $4.3 billion in fines and penalties. A federal judge ruled today that Zhao, a resident of Dubai, must stay in the United States through his sentencing on February 23rd, 2024.

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