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Business News/ News / Crypto’s Comeback on Full Display at Rain-Soaked Dubai Gathering
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Crypto’s Comeback on Full Display at Rain-Soaked Dubai Gathering

It was a rough start for the Dubai edition of the Token2049 crypto conference as massive flooding from heavy rainfall earlier this week caused attendees’ flights to be delayed, diverted or outright canceled. Many arrivals endured hours-long bus rides from the airport, missing luggage and hotels with power outages.

Crypto’s Comeback on Full Display at Rain-Soaked Dubai GatheringPremium
Crypto’s Comeback on Full Display at Rain-Soaked Dubai Gathering

(Bloomberg) -- It was a rough start for the Dubai edition of the Token2049 crypto conference as massive flooding from heavy rainfall earlier this week caused attendees’ flights to be delayed, diverted or outright canceled. Many arrivals endured hours-long bus rides from the airport, missing luggage and hotels with power outages. 

But once the event began Thursday, any sign of trouble evaporated. Instead, a party-like atmosphere overtook the beach resort where the event took place as attendees celebrated rising crypto prices and declared a new bull market for the industry. Luca Netz, chief executive officer of nonfungible token company Pudgy Penguins said it was no surprise that the crypto community rallied.

“We’ve been through worse," he said.

Signs of excess and luxury echoed crypto conferences that took place during the last bull market. Participants pulled up in high-end vehicles (one attended boasted on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter, about taking a Lamborghini around the city). A stand peddling expensive watches set up shop in a corner of the crowded conference hall across from a DJ booth that started playing house music before 8 a.m. In addition to ample breakfast, lunch and dessert buffets, attendees enjoyed happy hour drinks in the venue’s sunny courtyards.

“It’s a very big collection of people from all regions," said Sergey Nazarov, co-founder of Chainlink Labs.

There were also the gimmicks. Attendees could pet a camel and two llamas at an outdoor pen or try a human claw machine where they hooked their body to a harness that would drop them into a pit filled with cushions, which they would try to gather before being hoisted back up. A crypto beauty contest advertised a search for the next “Miss Web3" and a K-Pop group played during a break between conference speaker sessions.

For many attendees, the event showcased the appeal of Dubai and the United Arab Emirates in spite of the previous poor weather. While Token2049 has typically been hosted in Singapore, this was its Dubai debut. 

“It’s another big step of establishing the UAE as as a global crypto hub," said CEO Stefan Kimmel, whose crypto firm M2, is based in the UAE and helped sponsor the event.

But others were concerned about the heightened festivities.

“This new bull market is going to be a noisy one," said Emin Gün Sirer, founder and CEO of blockchain developer Ava Labs.

He said he’s concerned that industry players are still promoting bad products with misleading fanfare and that users could still fall victims to criminals like FTX co-founder Sam Bankman-Fried, who was sentenced to 25 years in prison last month for his role in a years-long fraud at his crypto exchange.

“If tomorrow, a guy shows up with huge curly hair, says he’s from MIT, and he’s got a magic trick and he’s very rich, people will give him their money again," he said. “They learned no lessons."

Bankman-Fried, who was once highly influential in the industry, left behind a void that other scammers could step in to fill, according to Sirer. But he noted that crypto investors should know better by now because of the number of scandals the industry has endured.

“We should have no sympathy though for the people who lose their money as a result of these scams," he said.  

More stories like this are available on bloomberg.com

©2024 Bloomberg L.P.

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Published: 20 Apr 2024, 12:50 AM IST
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