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Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia: Live SAR Price, Best Exchanges, Taxes, and History
Saudi Arabia is in a strange position when it comes to the blockchain industry. On the one hand, it is known for being blockchain-forward and open to leveraging the technology into making its cities more efficient. It is part of the country’s transition towards a ‘smart city model.’ This has a core component of its plans to liberalize its economy.
Yet, despite this, the country has been relatively mixed on its track record in regulating Bitcoin. While one can trade and buy Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia, there are no institutional protections whatsoever.. Despite opening up to the world in the past few years, Bitcoin has yet to grip the nation as much as in Singapore, the United States, or other economies.
Is Bitcoin Legal in Saudi Arabia?
The legality of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies in Saudi Arabia is a fuzzy issue. Bitcoin is completely legal in the country, but the Suadi Arabian Monetary Authority (SAMA) has warned its people that the asset is “high risk” and does not guarantee any protection for losses incurred. There is also a blanket banking ban on Bitcoin so financial institutions cannot dabble in the industry at all in Saudi Arabia. In terms of other digital currency, however, SAMA announced in 2017 that it will implement a pilot project to issue a local digital currency (Riyal) that will be used in bank transactions. So there seems to be some promise on a more centralized digital currency, while Bitcoin is more or less quasi-legal in the country.
How to Buy and Sell Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia
There are currently only a handful of ways to purchase BTC in Saudi Arabia. However, nonetheless, it can be done. If you find these options unsuitable, there are always other means of making purchases peer-to-peer OTC marketplaces.
Top Bitcoin exchanges in Saudi Arabia
BitOasis is a cryptocurrency exchange based in the United Arab Emirates, one of the first to ever be licensed in the countries. It has become a popular destination for Saudis who are also looking to purchase Bitcoin as well. As of now, you can buy up to $1,350 of BTC weekly without any verification. Bear in mind, however, that you will have to convert your fiat to the AED before trading which could add an extra cost. As of spring 2019, BitOasis has reportedly secured preliminary approval with financial regulators from the UAE.
CoinMama is available in virtually every country in the world which is why it has been able to operate for so long. It was launched in 2013 in Israel but is based in Slovakia. Additionally , Saudi Arabia became one of its served regions because it allowed buying through credit or debit cards. Yet, the common complaint about CoinMama is its high fees which can go as high as 6%. However, for Saudis looking to purchase Bitcoin, it is a small price to pay given that there are not many options available. Assess whether you believe the fee to be worth it or just use BitOasis.
Paxful is less of an exchange and more of a peer-to-peer platform where you can trade BTC for various fiat currencies. One of the currencies accepted is the SAR which suits those living in Saudi Arabia. With relatively low fees of 1%, it is an option for those looking to trade SAR for BTC. Be warned, however, that Paxful does not verify IDs and there is low liquidity so be wary of fraud. Even so, in a country like Saudi Arabia where the legality of cryptocurrency is vague, peer-to-peer platforms like Paxful tend to be increasingly more popular.
Besides these exchanges, there are also other methods for purchasing Bitcoins. For example, LocalBitcoins is available in Saudi Arabia which allows you to directly connect with buyers. This might be a suitable way for some investors since it is face-to-face. It also has a social character, where you meet the person you are trading with, essentially building a social trust network of sorts. LocalBitcoins can also lead to ad-hoc social-media networks of bitcoin-exchange.
As of now, there are also two Bitcoin ATMs in Saudi Arabia if you happen to live near them. They can be found on this map here. They can be used to buy and sell Bitcoin, but just be wary of the fees since they can be high. There is currently no information on whether Bitcoin mining is being done in Saudi Arabia.
Saudi Arabia’s Tax Rules on Bitcoin Profits
Because the government has been relatively hostile to Bitcoin in the country, there are no clear tax guidelines for Bitcoin holders. Taxes on Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia are virtually thus non-existent since the government is actively warning investors to stay away from cryptocurrencies.
The SAMA has warned citizens of the risks involved with cryptocurrency trading by deeming it “a get-rich scheme due to the high regulatory, security and market risks involved.” Overall, the government is very strict with regard to the declaration of Bitcoin use. So, if you are a Bitcoin, you are better off not reporting your holdings or risk losing your assets. While Bitcoin mining data is scarce from Saudi Arabia, the country is venturing into developing its own digital currency jointly launching it with the United Arab Emirates.
Where to Spend Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia
Even though are two Bitcoin ATMs in Saudi Arabia, the use of bitcoin within retail is a different story. There are not many places to spend Bitcoin in Saudi Arabia given that all financial institutions are banned from working with the leading cryptocurrency. As of now, there are no options for Bitcoin holders to spend their Bitcoin in the country, which may come as a disappointment.
The only hope Bitcoin holders have to spend their BTC is through online vendors which are not based in Saudi Arabia. These include NewEgg, Dell, and others, however, just make sure these vendors ship to Saudi Arabia. Often times, Saudi Arabian Bitcoin holders also depend on their overseas diaspora as a retail link, although peer-to-peer, for buying anything with bitcoin.