Ras Al Khaimah ruler Sheikh Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi inaugurated the new RAK Digital Assets Oasis (RAK DAO), an economic free zone dedicated to supporting companies involved in digital and virtual assets, blockchain, Web3 and artificial intelligence (AI) on Oct. 19.

As previously reported by Cointelegraph, the free zone will be dedicated to digital and virtual asset service providers in emerging technologies such as the metaverse, blockchain, utility tokens, virtual asset wallets, nonfungible tokens, decentralized autonomous organizations (DAOs), decentralized applications and other Web3-related businesses.

RAK DAO and its ecosystem partners will also run grant programs and provide specialized support in various areas of technology, marketing and business development.

“When we embarked on this… journey, our vision was to create a hub where digital assets could thrive, innovation could flourish, and groundbreaking ideas could come to light,” Sheikh Saud said in his opening remarks. “We wanted to provide a platform to foster its growth and success.” He added:

“We observed that global trends and data point to the incredible opportunity digital assets offer, and we felt… that Ras Al Khaimah could and should benefit from being a first adopter.” 

A memorandum of understanding was also signed between Securities and Commodities Authority CEO Maryam Buti Al Suwaidi and RAK DAO CEO Sameer Al Ansari.

Related: Middle East regulatory clarity drives crypto industry growth — Binance FZE head

Cointelegraph reached out to RAK DAO for further comments but didn’t get an immediate response.

Ras Al Khaimah, known for its rich cultural sites, is turning to the digital assets sector to diversify its economy away from traditional avenues, such as tourism. However, the new free zone has entered a space where more popular technology hubs in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are already attracting global crypto firms.

RAK DAO joins the United Arab Emirates’ list of Web3-friendly free zones — areas where entrepreneurs have 100% ownership of their businesses and have their own tax schemes and regulatory frameworks, except for the UAE’s criminal law — including the Abu Dhabi Global Market, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre and Dubai International Financial Centre, among others.

Sheikh Saud issued Law No 2 of 2023, which decrees the establishment of RAK DAO as part of its economic diversification efforts and attempts to attract global players, the Emirates News Agency reported in March. The legislation grants the free zone financial, administrative and legislative independence, allowing it to function as a purpose-built, innovation-enabling free zone for the virtual assets sector.

RAK DAO has since added several partners to help grow its ecosystem, including the HBAR Foundation, local bank Rakbank and Romanian AI firm Humans.ai.

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