Two important countries in the Middle East, namely Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are going to join the cryptocurrency era and build a new financial relation through Aber, a proposed digital currency. The proposal got a new dimension after Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the UAE on November 28, 2019.

The official visit was supposed to focus on many sensitive regional issues, joint policy measures, and notably, a local Aber digital currency project. It is customary for members of Arab Royal Families to offer warm greetings to officials of a similar kind. Naturally, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed al Nahyan welcomed the Saudi prince upon arrival.

Both the leaders are supporters of modernization of the region in the various arena including economic, social, and political sectors. Particularly the Saudi crown prince has brought about many changes in the conservative Gulf country, including allowing women to drive and relaxing the male guardianship laws. Buzz about Aber digital currency has been there for quite a while, and this latest news has sparked new hope among many investors.

Aber digital currency will boost financial cooperation

The two leaders had a long discussion to reach new milestones in the financial and political sectors of the countries. They agreed upon several issues and signed seven strategic and four policy initiatives during the official visit. Being rich in oil, they decided to set up a new oil refinery in the region. The leaders also put emphasis on cybersecurity as the area is a target of many extremist groups.

Launching a joint digital currency got special attention which is expected to serve as a bridge between the two Arab monarchies. The aim was to increase interbank trading opportunities. Earlier in January 2019, the concept of Aber digital currency came to surface when the two government bodies, namely the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) and the United Arab Emirates Central Bank (UAECB), started the discussion on this issue.

Saudi Arabia is a key influencer in the region and UAE seems to maintain a healthy political and financial relationship with the country. The officials from both countries frequently sit together to work out the current and potential financial challenges of the Arab world.

The proposed digital currency is not for public use

There is no big hope for crypto investors of the Middle East right now because the joint venture for digital currency is being restricted to banking institutions initially. Instead of opening for public usage, ‘Aber’ will facilitate interbank financial settlements. As a result, a few selected banks will have the privilege of participating in the development of the currency under distributed ledger technologies.

The UAE central bank announced in February 2019 in a local newspaper that, six commercial banks, three Saudi and three UAE, will supervise the Aber project. No date has been fixed as to when the digital currency will be launched or how the new money will be issued. The project is currently in POC (proof of concept) and is supposed to be finalized within this February. However, this latest series of meetings is expected to make some visible progress in the future development of Aber.

IBM is involved in the Aber project

Mr Anthony Butler, an IBM Engineer and Chief Technology Officer in UAE tweeted in January 2019 about cryptocurrency announcement by UAE central bank and SAMA in Saudi Arabia. He confirmed in another tweet that IBM is designing the new currency so that it can be issued by two central banks simultaneously. He praised the leadership of both SAMA and CBUAE as they have been able to solve many hard challenges already.