With a warning published on a government website, Saudi Arabia became the latest country to declare cryptocurrency illegal within its borders. The strictly religious kingdom did, however, not specify any punitive measures against offenders.
The note, published by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Authority, was formulated as a warning with a headline that read “The unauthorized virtual currencies are illegal inside the kingdom of Saudi Arabia.” The warning further said that “the committee warns all citizens and residents about drifting after such illusion and get-rich scheme due to the high regulatory, security and market risks involved.
With the country just recently lifting a long-standing ban on popular apps like Skype and WhatsApp, the kingdom of Saudi Arabia is no stranger to banning things they see as threatening to the government in any way.
Last year, Saudi prince Al-Waleed bin Talal, a famous billionaire and investor, told CNBC in an interview that he viewed bitcoin as a “fraud,” saying “I just don’t believe in this bitcoin thing. This thing is not regulated. It’s not under control.”
As reported previously, Islamic scholars have still not reached a consensus on whether cryptocurrency is “halal,” or permissible under Islamic law. According to one interpretation of Sharia law, cryptocurrency could be haram – strictly forbidden – since it is an object of speculation and not backed by tangible assets. However, in June, California-based Stellar startup has received certification from Islamic scholars for its blockchain platform and related cryptocurrency, giving a glint of hope to other players in the nascent industry.
At the same time, Iran, another Islamic republic on the Persian Gulf, is looking to dodge the impending US sanctions by turning to cryptocurrencies.