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UAE to host major finance expo, US fintech conference told, as leaders speak of aggressive rebound in market

NEW YORK: Abu Dhabi will host Investopia, one of the biggest financial events in the MENA region, in March, the cryptocurrency conference SALT New York was told on Monday.

The announcement was made during a session in which UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al-Marri and the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Mohamed Al-Shorafa, described how the country had refocused its economy away from oil and gas.

Al-Marri said the UAE had introduced some of the world’s first regulations into cryptocurrency as part of the country’s roadmap to modernizing its economy.

“Last year we announced our vision for the next 50 years. We are a country of visions and our leaders are visionaries,” he said.

Al-Marri explained that the country had changed 40 laws, including the decriminalization of bouncing cheques, and the 100 percent ownership law was also introduced to allow onshore ownership of companies by non-Emiratis.

He said the aim of the UAE was to drive the economy from a regional player to being truly global.

Al-Marri said that in the UAE the aim was to “push new economies, not future economies.”

The SALT New York event opened Monday amid a turbulent time — the virtual economy has experienced a monumental drop in the market, with cryptocurrencies, Bitcoin and other tokens, all plummeting in value, with investors losing thousands on a market that offers no tangible goods.

In his opening remarks Anthony Scaramucci, founder and managing partner of SkyBridge, reflected on turbulent times since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Markets are changing again, he said, telling journalists in an impromptu media briefing that he was continuing to invest millions in funds that he believes are valued at their lowest, but he said he recognized there was always a risk that they could fall further.

“I am already seeing my investment improve in value,” Scaramucci later told Arab News on the sidelines.

“I think we all have to recognize that we are going through a cyclical bear (down) market,” he added, saying that there was already some sign of activity in the applications for cryptocurrencies as values were going down.

Referring to the current situation with the market downturn he said “we have got things that we really haven’t seen since the 1970s.”

The global inflation rises he said were two-pronged — with a drop in supply, but also a labor issue where there was a workforce shortage with people demanding higher salaries.

Asked when the economy would recover he told Arab News: “I think this time next year we will see a very aggressive recovery.”

Despite the downturn in the market, there nonetheless seemed to be an upbeat energy at the opening day of the conference

Sam Bankman-Fried, CEO of FTX, one of the world’s largest crypto-trading platforms, speaking remotely told the conference he remains optimistic about digital assets because “more regulatory clarity is coming.”

He said that would help to “unlock the asset class” for a number of institutions who want to get involved in the sector.

And Frank Chaparro, editor-at-large at The Block — a website dedicated to cryptocurrency news — said he believed there was still hope that the “winter has thawed and that the spring is upon us.”

Speaking to Arab News on the sidelines of the conference, he said, “we don’t know how long this winter is going to last,” adding that 2018-2019 were two years of what he called “crypto winters.”

He said now was a time of hope in the market — adding that people should not focus on the value.

“It’s hopeful,” he said, “because it is a unique dynamic space. So if anything, this (is) a great time to build because we are not getting distracted by price and we can focus on doing the work.

“We have to think about what we have just got out of, we have got out of a massive price decline. We saw liquidity sucked out of the system, we saw leverage sucked out of the system. This was a dramatic collapse,” he explained.

Referring to the near 100 percent fall of the Terra (known as LUNA) crypto token, wiping billions of dollars off the market, he said: “LUNA was a dramatic collapse, the likes of which we have never really seen, a coin going from $50 billion market cap to zero, effectively.”

And he warned that people should not expect a “v-shaped rebound,” and added “patience is warranted; optimism, just in life, is always important.”

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