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Austrian finance unicorn to open in UAE

The UAE's minister of industry and advanced technology, Sultan Al Jaber, left, met Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of Austria, for talks on trade Wam
The UAE's minister of industry and advanced technology, Sultan Al Jaber, left, met Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of Austria, for talks on trade
  • Bitpanda allows crypto and securities trading
  • 150 Austrian companies operate in UAE
  • UAE and Austria in top-level trade talks

Austria’s first unicorn has announced plans to set up in Dubai, as officials from the UAE hold top-level talks in Vienna to build on a 22 percent increase in bilateral trade last year

A unicorn is a startup company valued at more than $1 billion that is privately owned and not listed on a share market.

Bitpanda, whose app provides access to a cryptocurrency exchange, commodities and securities trading, intends to expand across the Middle East, with the launch of Bitpanda Mena.



The company already has partnerships with several of Europe’s largest banks and wants to launch in the region later this year after obtaining a local operating licence.

“The UAE is the ideal place for us to make our entry to the Middle Eastern market,” said Eric Demuth, Bitpanda’s co-founder and CEO. “It has the perfect mix of investor demand and innovative regulatory environment that will allow us to deliver the best trading solution available on the market.”

New figures show that UAE exports to Austria jumped by 21 percent to $254 million in 2023, while Austrian exports to the UAE rose by more than 23 percent to $708 million.

The UAE is Austria’s top investment partner in the Middle East and North Africa and sixth globally, with Emirati investments exceeding $8 billion, while Austria is the UAE’s 10th-largest European trading partner.

More than 150 Austrian companies operate in the UAE, which takes 43 percent of Austria’s total trade with the GCC bloc.

Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, the UAE’s minister of industry and advanced technology, met Karl Nehammer, Chancellor of Austria, along with other officials in Vienna earlier this month. Closer cooperation across energy and advanced technology was discussed.

Nehammer said: “The UAE is an important strategic and economic partner in a variety of areas, from diversifying energy sources to ensuring security and stability in the Middle East.”

The first ministerial meeting of the UAE-Austria Comprehensive Strategic Partnership took place during Al Jaber’s visit. 

The two sides praised last year’s signing of an air transport services agreement that aims to increase flights between the countries, opening up more trade and investment opportunities.

Al Jaber said that since the launch of the Comprehensive Strategic Partnership in 2021, UAE-Austria ties have witnessed “great progress”.

Last month, the Austrian company Doka signed an agreement with Azizi Developments for the manufacture and supply of formwork systems for the latter’s skyscraper project, Azizi Tower, on Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai’s main thoroughfare.

Formwork involves moulds into which concrete are either precast or cast-in-place on construction sites. 

UAE-Austria trade highlights

  • In February, state oil company Adnoc announced that it had formally closed the acquisition from Mubadala Investment Company of a 24.9 percent shareholding in OMV, a global energy and chemicals group headquartered and listed in Vienna.
  • The UAE government, represented by the Office of Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, signed a memorandum of understanding with Austria to enhance the adoption of AI in various sectors.
  • The International Free Zone Authority in Dubai, which opened its latest overseas office in Frankfurt, Germany last month, says it plans to expand its network to Austria later this year. 
  • In December the UAE-Austria Joint Economic Committee held a meeting in Dubai, with discussions to forge partnerships in tourism, technology, green energy, logistics, infrastructure and vocational training.

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