Rudy Shoushany, DxTalks, MENA and Cardano

In this interview, Rudy discusses his extensive experience in financial technology and digital transformation, spanning 22 years. He mentions his involvement with the United Nations and participation in various mega projects in the Middle East and Canada. Rudy also highlights his role as a consultant, keynote speaker, and trainer in addition to hosting the DXtalks, which started during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The interviewer expresses gratitude for Rudy’s contributions, particularly through the DXtalks, and mentions that the 202nd episode is approaching.

Rudy shares that October is a significant month for blockchain, and he’s scheduled to attend 17 summits and conferences during the month. He emphasizes the importance of being in a location where blockchain-related activities are happening, particularly in the UAE, which he describes as the leader in the region regarding blockchain adoption and regulation.

The conversation then shifts to discussing crypto adoption in the Middle East. Rudy provides insights into the most crypto-friendly countries in the region, with Turkey leading by a significant margin. He mentions that the UAE and Bahrain also have relatively favorable crypto regulations, while other countries lag behind. Rudy explains that the adoption of crypto is often influenced by economic factors, such as inflation, and the need for alternative financial solutions.

The interviewer mentions that Egypt and Lebanon have had a love-hate relationship with crypto, primarily due to economic challenges. Rudy agrees and explains that many individuals turn to crypto as a means of safeguarding their wealth in unstable economic conditions. He also notes that regulations in these countries can be restrictive due to the fear of capital flight.

The discussion then turns to Cardano and its presence in the Middle East. Rudy expresses excitement about the upcoming Cardano summit and his participation as a speaker. He highlights the social impact of Cardano’s projects and its collaboration with organizations like UNHCR to support refugees. Rudy acknowledges the challenges of implementing Cardano but believes it has a promising future in the region, given its focus on problem-solving.

Rudy commends efforts to localize Cardano in the Arabic language to make it more accessible to the community. He anticipates a bright future for Cardano in the Middle East and hints at exciting developments that may be announced at the summit.

The interview ends with a friendly exchange, with Rudy sharing his upcoming travel plans and expressing optimism about the global nature of their interactions.

Overall, the interview provides insights into Rudy’s extensive background in fintech and digital transformation, his views on crypto adoption in the Middle East, and his enthusiasm for Cardano’s potential impact in the region.

Rami : Hello, everyone. Hello, Rudy. It’s always great to be with you as usual. How have you been?

Rudy : Very good. Thank you for hosting me today. I think it’s gonna be some interesting discussion.

Rami : It’s my pleasure. It’s my pleasure. Of course. So Rudy, from my own perspective, you worked in digital transformation and government. That’s what I can say. That that’s the least I can say. You have. It’s, it’s your field of work. All the, the fintech computer engineering. So you’re not like you started this career, it’s your career, it’s your thing. And a lot of people watch on the DXtalks. But not many people know who you are and what you do. So, I don’t want to say wrong information. So, is it OK to tell us and like a few sentences who you are? What do you do?

Rudy : Sure, thank you. Yeah, I, I’m figuring this out lately that people know me and see me but they don’t really know what I do, and it’s not a problem in terms of a problem. But it is somehow because, you know, it’s not just I’m hosting the talks and I’m being in the event for networking, but I really have 22 years’ experience in the financial technologies and digital transformation. So I’ve been there for, for a while. So when I talk about a subject, regardless if it’s Blockchain, which is new or not, I go from, from, the fundamentals and from the technical part and then I can go all the way level to the legal part. So it’s a very wide audience that I can talk to. I’ve been involved with the United Nations especially lately. I’ve been involved in many mega projects in the Middle East and Canada because I lived, I’m Canadian also. So I’ve been all over the place. I call myself sometimes the United Nations due to the, where I belong or where I am at one point of time. So I’m capitalizing on all of the knowledge that I have to run. This is how it started because the stock started as a refusal to stay home and in time of COVID. So it started actually the first week of COVID. So we capitalize on all of this information that I have because I have expertise in this. And then I can talk about payments. I can talk about transformation. I can talk about governance. I can talk about cybersecurity, you know, I can go deep on all of those because at one point of life in my life, I was the head of GRC in the IT field. So I talk, when I talk governance, it’s the highest level of knowing things and then how you can optimize it and make it efficient so that you need to dive deep. And with my knowledge of working in banking, governments, NGOs such as the United Nations and others that give you different also exposures all over. So it’s really interesting because I’m hired now as a consultant, as a keynote speaker, as a trainer, and different aspects of things, not just on the media side.

Rami : Great, amazing, good to know all this information about you, Rudy. So I must, I, I, I know that the DXtalks is approaching its 202nd episode stepping stone. So I’m looking forward to that. I always watch you guys. And we learn a lot from you every day. At least myself. I learn a lot from your channel. So I want to express my gratitude to the work that you are doing every day. In this side, of course, you’re doing many other things, helping many, many other places, etc. But especially the X talks is very helpful for me. And I’m sure for a lot of crypto enthusiasts in the area and all the area and in the world. So, what have you been up to lately in, in the, in, in man, is any news, any events going on? I know you’re in Beirut and in a couple of days, there’s something nice going on in Beirut.

Rudy : Yeah. I was in Dubai last week. I came back to Beirut because I have two events here, and then I’m another two days and then I’m jumping back for a long trip. I have seven planes or eight planes to take in the next month of October. It’s gonna be a tough one. So October is the month of Blockchain. So we’re keen on being on the forefront of this technology because for me, I always saw two things in the last, well, at least I’ve been not freelancing. I’ve been on my own for the last four years. This is where I left the corporate world and dedicated my time on this. So when I dedicated my time, I said I have to focus on two things. What are those two things? And funny enough. Three years ago, we started our first episode of the DXtalks on AI. So now AI is a thing but this is where we focused and then we spin off another talk show which is crypto talks. So it focuses on the Blockchain when that’s happening in there. Why we did this because we see these two technologies at the forefront of many other things in the future. Everything will be depending on that. Now, coming back to today, as I said, October is Blockchain month. So you have to be located in a place where everything is happening and this is where the role of UAE, and I’ll be in the UAE the whole October and November. Trying to see, I have 17 events only in October, 17 summits, conferences, whatever you wanna call them. This is excluding dinners, special dinners, special networking dinners by companies, excluding the parties, the after parties, which are also kind of networking. So we have Word Blockchain summit, Blockchain economy, Blockchain live to have JITECH future Blockchain summit, Fintech summit. And then we reach Cardano on the first or second of November also reaching to the fourth of November, which I’ll be part of it. Talking about you know, the world of Blockchain. So I’m happy with this year. Last year, we hosted the Dubai community edition of Cardano. But this year we were able to do an impact with Cardano itself so that they come to Dubai. And this year they invited me to be part of their list of speakers. So it’s full-time events, as I mentioned, only October, 17 events. I’m trying to knit my calendar because I’m very specific on everything we do because the amount of things that you have is if you miss something for me, it’s bad. That’s why I don’t want to miss. And most of them, you know, I’m talking as a keynote speaker or on a panel. So it’s very crucial for me to respect time attend. And so working on those is, is, is crazy. But hey, guess what? This is Dubai?

Rami : Great, great. So it feels like October is a festival for you. It’s like quite festive and I hope it will be full of amazing connections and networking for you and in general, for the MENA region and it will be a good boost for the, the crypto space and the men are so talking about that. Where do you see men are going and crypto adoption and on a scale from like whatever scale you would like? What, what do you think are the countries, which countries are the most crypto-friendly in the region? Like the map that’s behind me. What do you think? Which countries are the most friendly towards crypto adoption and which countries are the most repulsive of this idea?

Rudy : You know, when we talk about crypto, it’s a very dedicated or delicate topic, right? So when you talk about Blockchain, things change, but for me, it’s all in all I don’t wanna differentiate at this point of time, even though I do differentiate when I talk with, with officials. In terms of adoption, you know, there’s a new study that came, I think early last week. And I was sitting with the guys “ChainAnalysis”, I was sitting with the head of Middle East and I’m discussing numbers. So my numbers were totally wrong. And then he corrected me and told me there’s a report that we published. So I got them and in the Middle East as a whole, Turkey is number one by far, in terms of adoption by far, by far, by far. So the second one is UAE followed by Saudi Arabia, Iran, Israel, Morocco, Egypt, Algeria, Kuwait, Tunisia, Armenia, Jordan, Iraq, Palestine, Qatar Bahrain. Then Libya then Lebanon. I thought that Lebanon was one of the top three. But I was somehow wrong because maybe in terms of transaction it is, but in terms of the volume of the transaction, maybe it is not because we see a lot of adoption in the region. So I would say Turkey is really by far. And I’ve been to Turkey and I saw it on the ground where technically whenever you turn around, you can see someone is accepting Bitcoin or crypto or exchanging Bitcoin and crypto. So it, it’s very, very interesting. Now, going back to the second part of the question which is about the ease of use or what do you call it friendly part. Now today, the friendliest part is leading by far. And when we talk about UAE, why is it friendly? Not because people are trading. Saudi Arabia, people are trading, but there’s zero legislation related to crypto where in UAE, they have technically today to a certain point. They are, of course, this is an emerging market, this is ongoing. They are testing, we are testing where they are working together. But as far as regulation, especially in the region and maybe in the whole world UAE is by far the leading entity in terms of supporting the adoption of Blockchain and crypto with the “VARA” for example, virtual asset regulation authority playing a role. And you know, trying to give licenses now we have Ras el Khaima Authority also going into the crypto, they have their opening if you are watching this and then you can have you can be there on the opening on 18th October if I’m not mistaken or 19th of October. So that’s another thing that’s happening in UAE is also giving licenses with ADGM. So there is a lot of legislation noting on the Blockchain part, I’ll give you a number that will shock you on the Blockchain part. 80% of Dubai, the government works on the Blockchain. They’ve done the Dubai Digital Strategy in 2021. So that was 2021 ,2022, 2023. I’m sure this number even went up. So you can see as far as crypto-friendly or Blockchain friendly. This is where the UAE because they want to be on the forefront. So they legalize whatever and legally otherwise if you operate in their non-legal way, you will be fine. The second country that you find in the Middle East is none as far as regulation. So if you look Bahrain, sorry, Bahrain is the closest, second closest, just to be fair is the second closest. But then you find nobody. So there’s a big gap between Dubai Bahrain and the rest of the region. As, as we mentioned, there’s a lot of transaction or operations in crypto and Blockchain, but that’s not legal in terms of many are starting to think how to legalize it or to do something. But as far as UAE is the number one followed by Bahrain, but there’s quite a gap also between Dubai or, and Bahrain and then followed at least the rest of the Middle East and North Africa. Which one do you think is the worst?

Rami : I heard some bad stuff about, well not bad but like, I heard some not very friendly stuff about Egypt.

Rudy : Egypt is a love and hate relationship. Lebanon is a love and hate relationship. Who else there’s a lot of countries that they are in a love and hate sometimes. You know, because we have to remember why we’re talking about Egypt being on the heavy user of crypto Lebanon, Syria Turkey. Why? Because there’s an economical problem that is happening and then people need solutions and those solutions today, they are only coming from crypto. So if I want to maintain my money versus inflation or safeguard my money outside the country, I’m not talking about evading taxes or whatever, just in a very legal way. I want to safeguard my money. The only way today is by transferring to crypto, it doesn’t have to be Bitcoin, Ethereum, whatever we can talk about USDT or USDC or whatever, stable Cryptocurrency. But this is today the only way to safeguard in a very bad economy and look at Lebanon, why was it really adopted? And we, we heard a lot of scams and hundreds of millions of dollars because people wanted to go out of the banking because guess what? They don’t have any alternative? Similarly to, to Egypt, I’ve been to Egypt. Can you take $1 out of the country? No, $0 you cannot take any dollar. I have some bills today that are pending because I cannot access dollar value. They will give me Egyptian but they cannot give me dollars. So this will make it run more. But at the same time in Egypt because you cannot access the dollar or you cannot have dollars. So guess what, then you will be, we will be hunted because if you are saying I want, I’ll give you your USDT which is digital dollars per day or crypto dollars regardless if it’s backed by government or not. That means you’re exchanging, your local currency into a dollar value which is not good for them. So that will be chased. That’s why they follow you and they try to chase you on so many other things, but it will come, it will come. I don’t see it far now, but it’s not just about following the global trend, it’s about the local, what’s happening, the economical factors, the security of the economy and so many other things that are playing a role into this.

Rami : Yeah, let’s hope for the best, for sure, fingers crossed for all of the area to adopt the safest best transition ever. So now which lead this leads us to our final question. The most important question is where is Cardo and all of this in the region? What, what’s your view on? Where is Cardano. There is Cardano summit for sure, going on soon. Will you be participating in it as a keynote speaker? What’s your activities? And what, what do you what do you think about Cardano in general? What’s your insight?

Rudy : Yeah, I’ll, I’ll start with the summit and then I’ll go about my insight. I’m really looking forward to the summit because they will be focusing not just in parallel directly in the summit with the stakeholders from the governments, from the institutes that are participating there, from the leaders in the Middle East and especially in UAE because again, as we mentioned, UAE is a leading in this. So now Cardano coming to Dubai and then trying to negotiate certain things and I know behind the scene that they are because I’m involved in a couple of other people that they told me what’s happening. So hopefully we will be seeing a Cardano Center soon. I hope so. In, in, in UAE trying to push the agenda of Cardano. Regarding the summit. Yes, I’ll be speaking there. I’ll be more than happy. Again, to be part of this and to be selected part of the Middle East suite of speakers because there were not many but most of the people that were involved, they got accepted into the speaking arrangements. We will be three full days of activities, day and night. So they, we will not have a minute of rest with, Cardano they’re taking care of us during the day and taking care of us during the night because I don’t, I don’t see also just about talking, it’s about networking, it’s about connecting, it’s about eating together. It’s about spending time together to build this community. And I think this would be the major part of building the we, we did build last year’s community. We had an amazing turnout show. But this year it will be a stamp that this community is there to survive and capitalize on. Now. It’s a very exciting By the way, if you didn’t register, please do register as soon as possible. And it’s a very exciting summit, international speakers, region speakers, a lot of great topics in terms of Cardano in the Middle East or in general, there’s a lot of involvement. As I mentioned, there’s a lot of involvement with the government of UAE trying to push the agenda of Cardano. And we know the agenda of Cardano is always, it has a social impact in its essence. And we know there’s a UNHCR that is dealing with Cardano also, finally, we can see crypto being deployed to refugees and then we know how many refugees are in the Middle East that is really pushing the agendas trying to change that crypto could be for good, not just for bad or illicit activities. There’s a lot of you know, projects that are trying to help. There’s a lot of projects in UAE and there’s a metaverse projects also in UAE from the UAE built in the UAE. I’ve seen them last year. It’s amazing, you know, effort of the team. So I think Cardano is being taken on little bit by little bit with all of the updates that happened within the last year on its protocols and on its network. We’re seeing more and more adoption. We get to know, of course, that Cardano is, is hard or harder to implement. But the team behind Cardano are pushing the agenda, they are helpful a lot. And then we’ve seen and you know, Rami with a MENA catalyst that they are, we see them every year, they are growing, the projects are growing, the community is growing, the people participating are growing. So I think Cardano is one of the players of the future in the Middle East trying to bridge so many other things. They are working on the identity, they’re working on the adoption, they’re working on solving problems. And that’s the essence I think here because many other projects are there to be there, but Cardano is there to solve a problem. So hopefully this will be kind of, you know, we’ll see more and more adoption and more and more projects in this space. And then you are doing also amazing trying to change the perspective of, of not just Cardano, you know, but in specific Cardano to make it local, to localize it with, with the Arabic language. And that’s, I’ll applaud you on this because we need more of such initiatives, you know, trying to localize the language, trying to localize it to our community so that they can talk the same the same language. So yeah, there’s a big future I would say. And then I know they are cooking behind the scene, a lot of things and then hopefully we can get firsthand on what’s happening in the summit itself, which is happening in 33 days.

Rami : Amazing. So the countdown started already for the summit. And thanks again for your really kind words. And it’s beautiful how you said the Cardano is usually there to solve a problem and hopefully this vision that’s carried by Charles Hoskinson and the Emurgo, IOHK and on is, imbibed in the MENA region and they can use the MENA region or utilize this space which is the kind of the capital of the world in many things especially GCC, UAE area to go out from there and grow so Rudy again. That was amazing. I think we can keep talking for hours to be honest. I hope we can do another meeting also in the future and talk about other very interesting points. Thanks again for your time and I hope to see you soon, if not in the summit. Also in Lebanon in Greece, anywhere in the world in Dubai. So, thanks again and hope you have a great week ahead in Beirut.

Rudy : Thank you. Yeah, I have two more days to enjoy the weather before going to more heated weather. So, we’ll definitely, will see you soon. That’s where today globalization has become a vehicle. And then if you tell me where you are tomorrow or next week, I can tell you where I am. But the idea is so many things are happening. So we’ll be all over.

Rami : Great ! cheers to that, so thanks again and Bye Bye Rudy !

Rudy : Thank you.

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