Dubai Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA) Rolls Out Regulations for Virtual Assets and Related Activities

Lavin Nalinababu


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    Dubai, known for its innovative approach to technology, has recently released the Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023 (VARA 2023), which provides a comprehensive framework for the virtual assets industry. The regulations, released by the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority (VARA), aim to promote responsible innovation while protecting investors and consumers.

    Virtual Asset: An Overview

    The regulations define virtual assets as digital representations of value that can be traded, transferred, and stored electronically. This includes crypto currencies, digital tokens, and other virtual assets used for financial transactions. The regulations also cover related activities, including virtual asset exchanges, wallet providers, and other service providers in the industry.

    Regulatory Framework

    To ensure compliance, the VARA Regulations have divided the rulebooks into two categories:

    1. Mandatory
    2. Activity specific

    The mandatory rulebooks, including the Company Rulebook, Compliance and Risk Management Rulebook, Technology and Information Rulebook, and Market Conduct Rulebook, must be followed by all Virtual Asset Service Providers (VASPs).

    The activity-specific rulebooks, covering

    1. Advisory Services,
    2. Broker-Dealer Services,
    3. Custody Services,
    4. Exchange Services,
    5. Lending and Borrowing Services,
    6. Payments and Remittances Services, and
    7. Management and Investment Services Rulebook

    Key Features of the Regulations

    • Licensing Requirements: Virtual asset service providers must apply for a license from VARA and demonstrate their compliance with the regulations before they can operate in Dubai.
    • Cybersecurity Measures: VARA has introduced robust cybersecurity measures to protect investors and consumers. Service providers must implement strict security measures and have contingency plans in place in case of a cybersecurity breach.
    • Consumer Protection: VARA has set clear guidelines for virtual asset service providers, including providing clear information to consumers, resolving disputes in a timely manner, and protecting the privacy of their users.
    • Anti-Money Laundering and Combating Financing of Terrorism: The regulations include provisions for anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism.
    • Marketing Regulations: The regulations cover marketing regulations, protection against and investigation of market offenses, and the protection of confidential financial information.

    Road Ahead for the Virtual Asset Industry

    The virtual asset market in Dubai is anticipated to be greatly impacted by the issuance of the VA Regulations. The regulations will encourage responsible innovation and increase investor and consumer confidence. The regulations are also likely to attract international virtual asset businesses to Dubai, further strengthening its position as a leader in the industry. In order to stay up with how quickly the sector is changing, VARA will also continually reviewing and revising the laws.


    Dubai’s Virtual Assets and Related Activities Regulations 2023 is a significant step forward for the virtual asset industry. The regulations provide a comprehensive framework for the industry, promote responsible innovation, and increase investor and consumer confidence. The future of the virtual asset industry in Dubai is bright, and the VARA 2023 regulations will play a key role in shaping its future.



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