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Digital art in spotlight as Dubai makes crypto hub bid

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DUBAI: Art Dubai, the Middle East's largest annual contemporary art fair, has featured for the first time digital works, as the wealthy Gulf emirate seeks to position itself as a crypto-assets hub.This year, in its 15th edition, the four-day fair is hosting more than 100 local and foreign art dealers, with an entire wing of 17 galleries and platforms dedicated to showcasing and selling non-fungible tokens (NFTs).NFT sales platforms use the blockchain technology behind cryptocurrencies, and transform anything from illustrations to memes into virtual collectors' items that cannot be duplicated.Benedetta Ghione, Art Dubai's executive director, said NFTs, which burst into the mainstream last year and are now traded at major auction houses, have drawn a lot of attention in the United Arab Emirates, already a leisure and trading hub.The increased interest, along with Dubai's "unique position" as "a growing crypto hub", prompted fair organisers to dedicate a new digital section, she told AFP at the launch on Friday (Mar 11)."We thought this was the perfect time, and the perfect place," she said.After signing an agreement in December with Binance, the world's largest cryptocurrency exchange by trading volume, Dubai - one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE - introduced last week a new virtual assets law and a regulatory authority to oversee the sector.Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum tweeted that such a step "establishes the UAE's position in this sector" and aims "to ensure maximum transparency and security for investors".Local NFT platforms have welcomed the move as good for business, with crypto holders increasingly interested in digital art as a form of investment."The crypto community is growing

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