Skip to main content

Kuwait prohibits all cryptocurrency use in new virtual assets ban

Users of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets in Kuwait would be subject to Kuwait’s 2013 money laundering and terrorist financing laws.
The Bitcoin logo is seen on a Coinstar cryptocurrency ATM at a grocery store in Washington, DC, on January 19, 2023. (Photo by Stefani Reynolds / AFP) (Photo by STEFANI REYNOLDS/AFP via Getty Images)

DUBAI — Kuwait has banned all virtual asset transactions, investments and mining, according to an online statement released on Tuesday by the country’s Capital Markets Authority (CMA).

Virtual assets are defined as any asset that has digital representation of their value, that can be treated or digitally transferred, or can be used for payment or investment purposes, according to global watchdog the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). The CMA statement further clarifies that mining cryptocurrencies, a function needed to verify and process transactions, is also prohibited. 

Based on these definition, this means that Kuwaiti residents are also banned from selling or buying non-fungible tokens, gaming tokens and other similar assets that are digital, decentralized and hold financial value. However, digital representations of paper currencies, securities and other financial assets are excluded from the ban, according to the CMA statement. 

The authority also issued a warning about virtual assets being high risk with prices based on speculation that expose them to sharp and sudden declines.

Users of cryptocurrencies and other virtual assets in Kuwait would be subject to Kuwait’s 2013 money laundering and terrorist financing laws, which if breached “could subject the parties to all penalties, financial or sentences of imprisonment, which are stipulated in Article (20) of the ministerial resolution,” according to the Central Bank of Kuwait. 

Other Middle East and North African countries that have heavy restrictions or full official bans on the use of cryptocurrencies include Algeria, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan, Turkey, Iran and Iraq, according to Texas-based firm Freeman Law, American personal finance brand Money and also government sources. 

On the other hand, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates are among the few countries in the region to allow and encourage the use of cryptocurrencies as they seek to build their virtual asset markets and draw in high-net worth individuals, as indicated by business journalist Sebastian Castelier in an Al-Monitor PRO memo published in July 2022. 

Binance — the world’s largest cryptocurrency exchange — was first granted a license in March 2022 to conduct operations in Dubai and has achieved more licenses to practice since. Two months later, in May, Dubai established the Virtual Assets Regulatory Authority to create guidelines and legal frameworks for the uses of virtual assets. 

Join hundreds of Middle East professionals with Al-Monitor PRO.

Business and policy professionals use PRO to monitor the regional economy and improve their reports, memos and presentations. Try it for free and cancel anytime.

Already a Member? Sign in


The Middle East's Best Newsletters

Join over 50,000 readers who access our journalists dedicated newsletters, covering the top political, security, business and tech issues across the region each week.
Delivered straight to your inbox.


What's included:
Our Expertise

Free newsletters available:

  • The Takeaway & Week in Review
  • Middle East Minute (AM)
  • Daily Briefing (PM)
  • Business & Tech Briefing
  • Security Briefing
  • Gulf Briefing
  • Israel Briefing
  • Palestine Briefing
  • Turkey Briefing
  • Iraq Briefing

Premium Membership

Join the Middle East's most notable experts for premium memos, trend reports, live video Q&A, and intimate in-person events, each detailing exclusive insights on business and geopolitical trends shaping the region.

$25.00 / month
billed annually

Become Member Start with 1-week free trial
What's included:
Our Expertise

Memos - premium analytical writing: actionable insights on markets and geopolitics.

Live Video Q&A - Hear from our top journalists and regional experts.

Special Events - Intimate in-person events with business & political VIPs.

Trend Reports - Deep dive analysis on market updates.

We also offer team plans. Please send an email to and we'll onboard your team.

Already a Member? Sign in