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Legality of Cryptocurrency in Select MENA and Gulf Countries

Updated: Oct 6, 2023


legality of cryptocurrency around the world
"Navigating Cryptocurrency Legality Worldwide"

The following is a summary of the legal and legislative situation of cryptocurrencies in some MENA and Gulf countries. The general data is collected from The Edinburgh Reporter, Cryptonews, and Business Compiler whereas the more detailed information is collected from various cites and official Central Bank statements in the relevant countries.


Legal Status:

Countries are grouped into four main groups: Crypto-friendly, Implicit Ban, Absolute Ban, and Other. The two types of Ban are very different according to Business Compiler.


An absolute ban entails that engaging in any form of "transactions with or holding cryptocurrency" is considered a criminal offense.


On the other hand, an implicit ban restricts cryptocurrency exchanges, banks, and other financial institutions from participating in activities related to "dealing in cryptocurrencies or providing services to individuals/businesses engaged in cryptocurrency transactions". This means that individual buy/trade with cryptocurrencies may be legal or non-penalized.


The "other" section addresses unclear or complex cases regarding the legality of cryptocurrencies and/or trading.


Crypto-friendly:

  1. Bahrain: Crypto-friendly environment with no prohibition on crypto trading. High number of crypto exchanges operating despite the lack of regulatory framework.

  2. Oman: No prohibition on crypto trading. Citizens cautioned about the risks as the use of cryptocurrencies remains unregulated.

  3. United Arab Emirates: Crypto trading allowed but cryptocurrencies are not recognized as legal tender.

  4. Gaza and West Bank: Crypto trading as an alternative source of income and popular for bypassing limitations. No specific regulations covered as of yet.


Implicit Ban

  1. Jordan: Implicit ban and prohibition on crypto trading. Warnings issued, as well as study by the Central Bank of Jordan.

  2. Lebanon: Tolerance towards crypto trading, not recognized as legal tender. OTC traders have an unclear situation in terms of legality.

  3. Libya: Implicit ban on crypto trading. Central Bank of Libya warned in 2018 that there is no "legal protection" for those using cryptocurrencies.

  4. Saudi Arabia: Implicit ban on crypto trading. Financial institutions restricted from participating and no protection is offered to traders.


Absolute Ban

  1. Algeria: Absolute ban on crypto trading. Any transactions with or holding cryptocurrency is a criminal act punishable under Algerian law.

  2. Egypt: Absolute ban on crypto trading. Any issuing, dealing or promoting of cryptocurrencies without an applicable license from the central bank of Egypt (ECB) is a criminal act. There is yet to be any guidelines for relevant licensing.

  3. Iraq: Absolute ban on crypto trading citing the warning issued by the Central Bank of Iraq standing since 2017.

  4. Morocco: Absolute ban on crypto trading. Owning and trading in cryptocurrencies in Morocco is punishable by law under an official decree as of 2022. However, there is talk of regulatory framework that may be issued in the future and the verdict may change.

  5. Qatar: Absolute ban on crypto trading. Penalties are applicable to any convicted of breaking the law. Exceptions may be had according to The Tokenist.

  6. Tunisia: Absolute ban on crypto trading with penalties. However, this may change in the near future where there is no legal framework regulating holding/trading crypto so far.


Other

  1. Iran: General ban on crypto trading due to concerns of money laundering and support for terrorism. The increased regulation follows bitcoin's price surge and a growing interest in crypto assets as a hedge against Iran's currency devaluation and U.S. sanctions. One such regulation is the ban on trading cryptocurrency mined outside the country.

  2. Turkey: Restrictions on using cryptocurrencies for payments, but trading is still permitted. The government is in the process of drafting a law to regulate the cryptocurrency market and the exact legal framework for cryptocurrencies in Turkey is yet to be determined.

Summarized information regarding cryptocurrency regulations worldwide can be found on Proelium Law's dedicated webpage.


Summary

The situation of cryptocurrencies varies dramatically between countries. However, the popularity of these virtual coins only seems to increase and new legislations may be issued in the future to match popular demand and the benefit of using cryptocurrencies nation-wide. Stay updated with Energco and get all the consultation services you may need for buying or trading in crypto.


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