Dubai: The United Arab Emirates will launch its first digital currency by 2026, the central bank of the oil-rich Gulf countries as the financial center of the region said on Monday.
Several central banks around the world have recently announced similar plans while criticizing decentralized cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin.
The Emirates central bank said its plans include “issuing a digital currency and driving digital transformation in the UAE s financial services sector, by utilising the latest artificial intelligence and big data solutions.”
The announcement is part of its “2023-2026 strategy” which aims to “position it among the world s top 10 central banks”, it said according to state media.
In 2019, Saudi Arabia and the UAE announced the testing phase of a universal cryptocurrency for cross-border transactions.
The UAE has huge technological ambitions, investing in artificial intelligence, launching a space program, and hosting the regional headquarters of large multinational digital companies.
Faced with the increasing popularity of cryptocurrency Bitcoin and online payments during the pandemic, the central bank is exploring its own new unit.
As the testing phase of the digital yuan began, China launched the competition in March.
The central banks of the United States, the European Union and England are also evaluating the possibility of launching their own digital currencies, which are designed to bring stability to a highly speculative sector.
Founded in 2008, Bitcoin, as an alternative to traditional currencies, is the most popular virtual unit in the world.
But due to China’s new measures to crack down on cryptocurrencies, their prices have plummeted recently.