South Korean cryptocurrency exchange Bithumb will open a new platform in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), local news outlet The Financial News reported Feb. 12.

The UAE-based platform is reportedly to be developed in partnership with Abu Dhabi-based firm Nvelop and will function as a springboard for Bithumb to expand into other countries in the Middle East.

Nvelop itself is a joint project from Abu Dhabi-based E11 Investment Fund and Taiwanese venture capital outfit Trill Ventures Group, Financial News reports. The joint venture was reportedly established to fund and develop blockchain initiatives in the Middle East and North Africa.

“The partnership with Nvelop will enable us to build a foothold in the Middle East as a global exchange,” the publication quotes Bithumb as saying:

“This year, we will diversify into a company centered on overseas business.”

The UAE began signalling a desire for cryptocurrency regulation in 2018, opting for a licensing scheme that should produce its first legally sanctioned exchanges in the first half of this year.

Bithumb joins a steadily increasing trend of major crypto exchanges opting to pursue international expansion plans amid challenging market conditions.

Last week, Bithumb debuted its over-the-counter platform for large-volume traders.