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Kraken shuts down Abu Dhabi office, suspends support for AED

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Cryptocurrency exchange Kraken has closed its office in Abu Dhabi less than 12 months after receiving regulatory approval to operate in the region.

According to a Feb. 2 report from Bloomberg, Kraken shut down its Abu Dhabi office, laying off roughly eight people on the team focused on the Middle East and North Africa, or MENA. The exchange had been licensed to offer services in the Abu Dhabi international financial center and Abu Dhabi Global Market since April 2022 — prior to the market downturn affecting many crypto firms.

In a statement to Cointelegraph, a Kraken spokesperson confirmed the shutdown, saying the exchange had decided to close its office and suspend support for the dirham, or AED, following a review of its “business lines”. Existing users in the region will still have access to the platform using other fiat currencies. Several employees will also reportedly remain in the area, with Kraken MENA managing director Benjamin Ampen likely to leave following the transition.

The reported move in the Middle East followed Kraken announcing in November it planned to cut its workforce by 30% — more than 1,000 people — in an effort to survive the crypto winter. Kraken co-founder Jesse Powell described the layoffs as taking the exchange back to its size in 2021 when it rapidly expanded. Powell announced in September that he planned to step down as CEO but stay on as board chair.

Related: Kraken crypto exchange is next to close doors to Russian users

Kraken also pulled out of Japan as of Jan. 31, marking the second time the exchange withdrew from the major Asian economy since April 2018. The firm said in December that the move was part of resource allocation, citing “current market conditions in Japan” and a “weak crypto market globally.”

This story was updated on Feb. 2 to include a statement from Kraken.