Amid an ever-intensifying crypto embrace, Oman, situated on the southeastern edge of the Arabian Peninsula, has recently greenlit multi-million-dollar investments to solidify its position as a digital trailblazer in the competitive West Asian landscape.
In a bold move, the Omani government unveiled almost $800 million worth of investments in crypto mining operations in August alone. Notably, an alliance with the Abu Dhabi-headquartered Phoenix Group was made public on August 23 to inaugurate a 150-megawatt crypto-mining farm alongside Green Data City—Oman’s pioneering licensed crypto-mining entity. This collaboration, worth $300 million, is set to launch next year. Preceding this, Muscat endorsed a $370 million venture by Exahertz International, aiming to deploy an additional 15,000 machines by October.
These investment pursuits signify a “remarkable leap” in Oman’s ambitions to bolster its digital economy’s growth, as articulated by Said Hamoud al-Maawali, Oman’s Transport, Communications and IT Minister.
However, these strides in crypto adoption arise amidst heated debates on its permissibility under Islamic law or sharia. The core query: is cryptocurrency halal (allowed) or haram (forbidden)?
Sharia mandates strict financial guidelines to classify activities as either halal or haram. Cryptocurrency’s speculative nature has led some Islamic scholars to label it as impermissible, resulting in fatwas (Islamic legal pronouncements) from influential groups in Turkey, Egypt, and Indonesia—the planet’s most populous Muslim nation.
Nevertheless, an opposing camp believes cryptocurrencies, devoid of interest (riba)—an element shunned in sharia—might qualify as halal. The increasing global acknowledgment of cryptocurrencies bolsters this viewpoint.
Despite scholarly discord, Muslim-majority countries have prominently surged ahead in crypto adoption. Chainalysis’s October 2022 study disclosed that the Middle East and North Africa, predominantly Muslim regions, spearheaded crypto market growth that year. Four out of the top twenty nations in Chainalysis’s Crypto Adoption Index had Muslim majorities, flanked by countries with significant Muslim populations like India and Nigeria.
Yet, regulatory stances vary across the Muslim realm. While nations like the UAE endeavor to position themselves as global crypto hubs, others like Turkey exhibit a dual approach—sanctioning crypto trading but prohibiting its use for transactions and by financial intermediaries.