Middle East Newsletter: Crypto Captures the Mideast Market
Blockchain-based currencies are making inroads in the Middle East with Dubai’s first-of its-kind crypto listing and the Bank of Israel’s trial of a digital shekel.
The Bitcoin Fund, that invests in long-term holdings of the cryptocurrency and was the first of its type to be listed on a major exchange, expanded to Nasdaq Dubai last week to ensure trading to all hours around the globe.
In Israel, where a recent central bank study concluded a digital currency could have a positive impact on the economy, Ethereum was picked for a trial of the payment system.
There was a word of caution, however. Qatar’s Chief Investment Authority Chief Executive Officer Mansoor Bin Ebrahim Al Mahmoud told Bloomberg’s Qatar Economic Forum that cryptocurrencies “need a bit of maturity before we make our view about investing.”
Bitcoin has roughly halved from its mid-April high of almost $65,000. The coin started 2021 trading around $29,000 following a fourfold increase in 2020.
Lebanon’s gross domestic product plunged to just above $19 billion last year, according to estimates by the International Monetary Fund. The statistic is now at its lowest level since 2002 and worse than war-stricken Yemen.
Indian billionaire, petrochemicals czar Mukesh Ambani, has a new interest: solar energy. The push comes as Ambani, the country’s second wealthiest man, brings a strategic partner into Reliance Industries, Yasir Al-Rumayyan, the head of Saudi Arabian Oil Co., to help reposition his cash-spewing refinery on India’s west coat into a low-carbon oil-to-chemicals empire. The business addition marks Ambani’s first major overlap with fellow Indian businessman Gautam Adani, Andy Mukherjee writes for Bloomberg Opinion.