Beginner’s Guide to Forex Trading in Dubai
Role of the DFSA Plus the Best Forex Brokers Available in Dubai
Ever since oil revenues plummeted from 50 percent of Dubai's GDP to less than 1 percent today, Dubai has been busy creating a financial industry that is the envy of the rest of the world - and forex trading is booming as a result. In this article, we will explain why forex regulation is so important, and the regulatory role played by the Dubai International Finance Centre and its Dubai Financial Services Authority. Then we will touch on the security and other concerns that should be at the forefront of your mind when choosing a forex broker in Dubai. To conclude, we will provide a short review of the 4 best DFSA-regulated forex brokers available to Dubai-based forex traders, as selected by our team of researchers.
The Importance of Regulation for Forex Trading in Dubai
Unfortunately, the forex industry has had to deal with its fair share of fraud, and Dubai forex traders have been no exception to instances of deception. This is part of the reason why regulations in Dubai, as a leading financial centre, have become so stringent. Since it is relatively easy for fraudsters to pose as superficially legitimate brokers, swiping unsuspecting traders’ funds and data in the process, it is vital to have a strong and rigorous regulatory framework in place.
Exential Investments Scam
One disaster that still lingers on in Dubai forex’s recent memory is the Exential Investments scam. Established in spring 2012, Exential Investments Inc was a money management company that claimed to provide forex investment services that would double investors’ deposits. A total of 7,000 of these investors lived in the UAE, with a significant number based in Dubai. Eventually, concerns began to surface in 2016 when some were unable to withdraw their funds. Others, however, began to receive some returns, but this was done solely to encourage other investors to continue investing and help Exential maintain their charade.
It later transpired that funds deposited by new investors were being used to pay existing investors, a clear Ponzi scheme that collected Dh1.8 billion. In July 2016, the Department for Economic Development in Dubai closed down the company’s Dubai Media office. Litigation began, and the Dubai Civil court awarded one claimant Dh1 million, but this has still not yet been collected because of difficulties locating the stolen funds. In 2018, lengthy prison sentences were handed down to Exential’s owner, his wife (in absentia), and the company accountant, as work began to uncover a convoluted global network of fraud.
With annual profits of up to 120 per cent promised, many of the forex investors were instead left penniless, losing their life savings and retirement funds in the process. As of today, a full 4 years after the alarm bells started ringing, investors are still battling to reclaim their funds.
Many lessons have been learned. However, although the UAE now has stringent regulations in place, these only cover brokerages which have licenses. It is clearly not possible to monitor all the platforms that spring up in real time, which means that forex traders need to keep their wits about them. A good rule of thumb is to never trust any forex broker that promises guaranteed returns.
Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC)
However, an even better approach is to use the expertise of regulatory bodies in your jurisdiction. Forex trading in the UAE generally is regulated by the federal Securities and Commodities Authority. This includes parts of Dubai. However, for the purpose of this article, we will focus on the 110 acres of Dubai known as the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC).
Otherwise known as the DIFC, this special economic area was established in 2004 to provide a location where local standards could be aligned with their international counterparts. The purpose here was simple: to broaden the range of financial assets on offer, and to help Dubai become a magnet for investment. It has worked very well. Since its creation pursuant to Article 121 of the UAE constitution and UAE Federal Decree No. 35 of 2004, the DIFC has become one of the world’s leading financial hubs.
A special feature of the DIFC is that it possesses its own judicial, legal, and regulatory framework, which is well aligned with international standards, but retains the specific character of the region. This has led to Dubai becoming a top-10 international financial centre, able to provide a full and deep range of banking services, such as taking deposits, providing credit, as well as offering M&A, underwriting, VC/PE, trade finance, capital markets and, of course, forex and other brokerage facilities.In order to help encourage the growth and development of businesses in the DIFC, 3 independent bodies were set up, as detailed in the figure below:
Figure 1: Bodies of the DIFC
Although each of these three bodies has a crucial part to play when attempting to understand the regulatory situation for forex brokers in Dubai, the focus should be on the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA). This organization is the independent regulator of financial services conducted in or from the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).
Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
In recent years, the DFSA has been the focus of increased attention from global brokers keen to offer their forex services to Dubai residents. However, with stringent guidelines in place, these applications are not a formality. Therefore, it is clear that those who overcome the hurdles presented are worth their place.
However, when searching for the right forex trading platform in Dubai and the DIFC, it can be easy to confuse what is meant by security and credibility. Regulated brokers are not immune from hacks, despite being well intentioned with their compliance approach, and your funds and personal data could still be at risk. The size of a brokerage and the length of time it has been in existence are the two most telling barometers when it comes to ensuring your security. Brokerages that perform well for these criteria often have the best expertise and financial resources in place to protect you. And the opposite is the case for trading platforms that are just starting out and still learning as they go.
Essential license check
If you have located a preferred broker, the first vital step to take is to check whether it is licensed in the DIFC. The best way to do this is as follows:
- Go to the DFSA website
- Type in the name of the broker you want to check and click “search”
If your preferred broker does not show up, either it does not have a DFSA license or it operates under a name that is different to its trading name. Do take the necessary steps to do your own research – even just to get into the habits of engaging in good practice.
However, we take pride at Business24-7 in easing the burden on our readers. Our team of analysts work all year round to evaluate the best brokers for all asset classes. This means extensive due diligence on all brokers and conducting extensive online searches for evidence of hacks. We also analyse audits carried out independently to assess whether the security measures they have in place are appropriate.
So this seems the right moment to save you some unnecessary legwork and provide you with our take on the 5 best DFSA-licensed forex brokers available to Dubai traders.
Which Is The Best Broker to Trade Forex in Dubai?
This is our list of the best online trading platforms for forex trading in Dubai. We have compared only the most trusted brokers based on several factors: traders score, commodities you can trade, trading platforms, funding methods, minimum deposit and welcome bonus and regulation.
IQ Options has a long trading services history. The company started operating in 2013. Having their main quarters in Limassol, Cyprus, they are authorized and regulated by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) only. IQOPTION LTD is registered at St. Vincent and Grenadines, this entity is not regulated.
IQ Options index brand has been recently updated to make sure the UAE clients get the same advanced tools and platforms, internationally available to other customers. They provide an improved in-house advantage platform different from the most known Metatrader 4/5 platform.
Those powerful tools are available without any risk - you can open a demo account with no limitations. $10,000 in virtual currency is also provided for you to practice with and is not limited in any way.
Pepperstone Financial Services (DIFC) Limited has been authorized and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority only since mid-2020 and is the most recent addition to our list. An excellent broker for forex traders in Dubai, users can enjoy tight spreads, over 80 currency pairs, high quality educational tools, fast withdrawals, and a minimum deposit of as low as $150.
Based in Gland, Switzerland, Swissquote’s Dubai presence is provided by Swissquote MEA Ltd., which holds a Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) Category 4 license. It acts as local relationship manager for your account, which is held offshore in Switzerland. Deposits and assets belonging to forex traders in Dubai are held securely in Switzerland with Swissquote Bank Ltd. A safe and low-risk broker for forex, they boast a wide selection of over 80 currency pairs, with a good selection of major and exotic pairs among them.
eToro is an established social trading company, operating since 2007. It is an FCA regulated entity when operating in the UK, an Australian entity in Australia, and a Cypriot entity for international customers.
eToro is considered to be a trustworthy platform as it is regulated by an established regulator while being a well-recognized startup as well. Its main operation is based around CFDs. CFDs are complex instruments that include leverage, so they come with a higher risk.
eToro has been awarded as the best social trading platform - social trading means you can follow other traders and copy their investment strategies.
Q8 Trade is an online broker, specialized in trading with Contracts for Difference (CFDs). The assets, available for trade, consist of currencies (forex), indices, stock and commodities.
It currently operates in the countries of the MENA regions – Middle East and North Africa.
Q8 Trade doesn’t have any trading fees other that the ones associated with the difference between the buy and sell prices, known as the spread.
The minimum deposit varies between $250 and $1000. There are no deposit fees while withdrawals cost $30.
The product catalogue is decent, and it includes around 50 currency pairs and 150 stock CFDs.
The trading platform is innovative and provides a wide variety of assets.
The brokers also has a number of account and plans to choose from. The choice depends on the experience level of the trader and his trading budget.
Forex Trading in Dubai – Conclusion
So, there you have it! Having learned from experience, and thanks to the stringency of the DFSA, forex traders in Dubai now have good reason to be as confident as ever. Although unregulated brokerages still exist, the wealth of educational material available on which brokerages to use is vast, so why risk it? And competition among regulated and licensed brokerages is also increasing, which means there is even less reason to raise the stakes.
If you have used any of the forex brokerages mentioned in this article, please let us know your experiences. We are always keen to hear direct user feedback to see how this aligns with our own research so we can provide the best information possible. Happy trading!
If you liked reading this article than you might be interested in this as well:
- 1 Beginner’s Guide to Forex Trading in Dubai
- 2 Which Is The Best Broker to Trade Forex in Dubai?