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Dubai Pizzeria Becomes First Merchant in the UAE to Accept Bitcoin

| Published on February 19, 2014 at 11:24 BST

Another milestone has just been passed in bitcoin’s bid for global domination. Notably, a restaurant in Dubai has become the first in the United Arab Emirates to accept payments in the digital currency.

In fact, The Pizza Guys, as the artisan pizzeria is called, is one of the very first merchants to offer a physical outlet for cryptocurrency in the whole of the Middle East. According to CoinMap, the restaurant was beaten to the number one slot by a grilled meat eatery in Israel.

Belief in bitcoin

The restaurant’s owners, husband and wife team Amber Haque and Rami Badawi, say they decided to enter the world of cryptocurrency partly to give customers more options for payment, partly to save on fees themselves, but also to participate in something new and interesting.

“We have been reading and thinking about bitcoin for some time,” said Haque.

“However, we decided to accept it as a form of payment for our business primarily because we believe in it. We want to participate and lend support to the movement.”

“For the restaurant, there are two main advantages,” she continued. “First, we are casting a wider net in terms of accepted forms of payment. Second, 20% to 30% of our revenue comes from credit card sales and carry a transaction cost of 2.25%. As our business grows, that 2.25% will become more significant to our bottom line.”

“Dubai is a city full of tourists, and for them, it is an even bigger advantage. They can pay in bitcoin without having to shoulder the associated foreign exchange fees.”

Taking risks

Compared with some other parts of the world, bitcoin is still not widely owned in the Middle East, so it’s hard to imagine too many customers turning up with bitcoin wallets on their phones. Could the restaurant’s decision to accept payments in BTC be merely a PR stunt, or is it something more altruistic?

“We had no way of anticipating the response and interest this story has generated. We knew we were the first in the UAE – restaurant or otherwise – to accept bitcoin. We still have a hunch that we are the first in the Middle East.”

“We believe bitcoin can take off in the Middle East,” she said, “but like all decisions, this one will either blow up in our face or be the most forward thinking.”

pizza

Since the announcement a week ago, the restaurant has had three bitcoin transactions. However, among those who know about bitcoin, or even trade in it, “the response has been nothing short of triumphant”, said Haque.

She added: “In fact, this Thursday, a local bitcoin group will be having their meetup at The Pizza Guys.”

While the pizzeria may be the first to accept bitcoin in the Middle East, it should not come as a surprise: “The UAE, and Dubai in particular, is entrepreneurial at its core.”

Historic precedent

It’s worth noting that restaurant’s move into the cryptocurrency arena echoes a rather important moment in bitcoin’s short history.

One of the very first bitcoin transactions was the purchase of two pizzas for 10,000 BTC back in 2010, a time when no one was taking bitcoin for anything and the value of a coin was down below one US cent.

At today’s rates, those bitcoins would be worth around $6.24m. Just imagine what the 0.034 bitcoin it costs for a vegetarian pizza at The Pizza Guys this week will be worth in another four years.

Pizza image via Shutterstock

Food and DrinkUAE

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