The world of trading platforms in the UAE is difficult for every investor, let alone beginners. Figuring out which platform is trustworthy, easy to use, and doesn’t have hidden costs is not an easy task!
We have personally tried and tested numerous platforms and written over a thousand articles reviewing and comparing brokers, trading platforms, and investing apps. This puts us in a comfortable position to say this: there is a silver lining.
So, for the busy professionals and nomad capitalists who call Dubai and the UAE home, we’ll present and compare what we consider to be the six best trading platforms in the UAE. Whether you’re a beginner seeking a user-friendly platform, a buy-and-hold funds and ETFs fan, or a crypto and CFD enthusiast, we’ve got you covered!
Don’t want to read the whole article? Find our summarized list below:
In a nutshell: Best Trading Platforms in the UAE
|Platform||Minimum deposit||Available Assets||Fees for US Stocks||Real stocks available|
|Interactive Brokers||$0||Stocks, ETFs, Options, Futures, Forex, Commodities, Bonds and Funds.||$0.0035 – $0.005 (max 1% of trade)||✔|
|eToro||$200||ETFs, Stocks, Cryptocurrencies and CFDs on Stocks, ETFs, Commodities, Forex, Indices and Cryptocurrencies.||$0 (other fees apply)||✔|
|XTB||$0||Real Stocks, ETFs, Forex and CFDs on Stocks, ETFs, Indices, cryptocurrencies and commodities.||$0||✔|
|Plus500||$100||CFDs on Indices, Forex, Commodities, Cryptocurrencies, Shares, Options and ETFs.||$0 (CFDs – spreads apply)||X
(Only CFDs on stocks)
|Saxo Bank||$5,000||Stocks, ETFs, Bonds, Mutual Funds, Crypto ETPs, Options, Futures, Forex, Forex Options, Crypto FX, CFDs and Commodities||$0.02 per share (min $5 on Classic)||✔|
|Sarwa||$500||US stocks & ETFs, crypto, savings account, and auto-invest (robo-advisor)||0.25% of the order (min $1)||✔|
#1 Interactive Brokers (IBKR GlobalTrader)
Interactive Brokers at a glance
Founded in 1978 and publicly listed in NASDAQ (ticker: IBKR), Interactive Brokers is a global online broker that has survived several financial crises, demonstrating a resilience and proven risk management framework.
Interactive Brokers offers an advanced investment platform that includes a wide range of products from over 150 markets, solid trade execution (IB SmartRouting), and technical and fundamental tools to help you make investment decisions. It now even accepts UAE dirhams (AED)!
Beginners and intermediate investors have educational tools to explore, but the learning curve will be steep. Besides, customer service gives crystal clear answers to your doubts, so there is no need to go back and forth.
On the downside, Interactive Brokers’ fee structure is complex, the registration process is lengthy (but online), and the broker does not offer commission-free trading in the UAE. However, when considering FX fees, narrower spreads, and the stock loan program, Interactive Brokers’ clients still get significant savings compared to most brokers.
Interactive Brokers also launched IBKR GlobalTrader, a modern mobile app for stocks, options, and ETFs, ideal for beginner investors. Some of the features of IBKR GlobalTrader include automatic currency conversions, fractional shares, a demo account, and more.
Want to know more about Interactive Brokers? Check our Interactive Brokers Review.
- Low commissions on US stock trading
- No monthly inactivity fee
- The broadest product and markets range in the brokerage industry
- Demo account
- Excellent reputation (founded in 1978)
- Extensive research and Education tools
- Has a modern mobile trading app to trade Stocks, Options and ETFs, ideal for novice investors, IBKR GlobalTrader.
- Offers interest on uninvested cash balances
- Complicated and lengthy account opening process (but fully online)
- Steeper learning curve for beginners
- Website is difficult to navigate
- Interactive Advisors (Robo-advisor feature) is only available for US customers
76% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
eToro at a glance
Founded in 2006, eToro is a well-known, worldwide fintech startup and the leader in social trading (following other people’s trades), with over 30 million users globally. You can also invest in products like stocks and ETFs through their intuitive platform, but also CFDs and cryptocurrencies, making it ideal for those who want to learn the art and science of trading. They offer commission-free stock and ETF trading for most names (other fees apply).
Opening an account and depositing is easy, and you can even try it out with virtual money. On the downside, spreads can be high for some products. The only currency accepted is the USD, which means that you’ll be charged currency conversion fees upon deposit and withdrawal if you deposit in another currency.
eToro does offer an Islamic (swap- and interest-free) account to all who contact customer service and fund their accounts to at least 1,000 USD. Want to know more about eToro? Check eToro’s website and read our review.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 76% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
- Commission-free stock and ETF trading (other fees apply)
- Social Trading and other innovative products
- Wide variety of financial products
- Slick, modern, and easy for anyone to use
- Top tier regulators
- Limited disclosed financial information
- Withdraw and inactivity fees
- Spread, overnight, inactivity, and currency conversion fees higher than average
- Only one currency account (USD) - a currency conversion fee is applied if you deposit in a different currency
- Doesn’t offer bonds, futures, or options
77% of retail CFD account lose money.
XTB at a glance
Founded in 2002, XTB is a major player in the brokerage industry with extensive worldwide experience, regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) – plus other relevant regulatory bodies – and listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
You can invest through xStation 5 and xStation Mobile in different investment products, such as stocks, ETFs, and CFDs on stocks, Forex, indices, commodities, and cryptocurrencies (this product offering may vary slightly from country to country). It offers 0% commission on stocks and ETFs.
XTB also has offices in the United Arab Emirates through the entity XTB MENA Limited, which has a license from the DFSA (Dubai Financial Services Authority) to operate in the region.
XTB does offer Islamic (swap-free) accounts for residents of UAE.
- Free stocks trading (only applicable to some countries)
- Customizable trading platform (charts and workspace)
- Low Forex Spreads
- Demo account
- No minimum account deposit
- Valuable education materials
- Top-tier Regulators
- Complex trading platform for a beginner
- High Stock CFD spreads
- Limited product portfolio
- Withdrawal fees for transfers below $100
- Inactivity fee (€10/monthly after 1+ year with no activity plus no deposit in the last 90 days)
82% of retail CFD accounts lose money.
Plus500 at a glance
Founded in 2008, Plus500 is an online broker offering a wide range of financial products, including stocks and CFDs on forex, indices, shares, commodities, options, ETFs, and cryptocurrencies. It is available in over 50 countries and is listed on the London Stock Exchange.
There is only one account type: Plus500 CFD, which, as the name implies, only offers CFD products. In other countries, Plus500 also lets its users trade stocks through Plus500 Invest. However, it is still not available for UAE investors.
The web platform you will use is WebTrader, Plus500’s proprietary platform, offering a stable trading experience and reliable access from multiple devices, including a mobile app. All platforms are accessible and responsive, and you can start testing the features by opening a demo account.
Their spreads are low, offering accounts in sixteen currencies, including USD, AED, EUR, and GBP. Still, they charge a 0.70% currency conversion fee and a $10 monthly fee following three months with no activity.
Plus500 does offer Islamic (swap-free) accounts for residents of the UAE.
Finally, Plus500 is one of the few online brokers which has opened a subsidiary dedicated to the United Arab Emirates: Plus500AE Ltd, which is authorised and regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA – F005651).
Want to know more about Plus500? Check our Plus500 Review.
CFDs are complex instruments and come with a high risk of losing money rapidly due to leverage. 82% of retail investor accounts lose money when trading CFDs with this provider. You should consider whether you understand how CFDs work and whether you can afford to take the high risk of losing your money.
- Acessible and responsive platform
- Low spreads
- No dealing commissions
- Demo Account
- Top-tier regulators
- No ETF offering
- Inactivity fee ($10 per month after no login activity in 3 months)
- High overnight funding fees
- Very little research and education provided
SAXO at a glance
Saxo Bank is a distinguished multi-asset broker renowned for its exceptional trading platform experience and extensive range of over 72,000 tradable instruments. It was founded in 1992 and offers a comprehensive suite of advanced trading tools, in-depth research capabilities, and premium features.
Saxo Bank lets you open an account in a wide range of currencies, including USD, EUR, GBP, AED, and several other major currencies. They have three account types (Classic, Platinum, and VIP), each with its own features and services.
- Excellent research materials
- Outstanding trading platforms (SaxoTraderPRO and SaxoTraderGO)
- Extensive range of investment products
- Long track record
- Supervised by worldwide top-tier regulators
- High minimum deposit
- Fees higher than average
- Fee structure is complex
- Does not accept US residents
Sarwa at a glance
Sarwa is a Dubai-based investment company that offers 4 main services/products:
- Sarwa Save: A savings account to earn interested on your cash;
- Sarwa Trade: A trading account that allows you to trade US-listed stocks and ETFs on your own;
- Sarwa Invest: A robo-advisory solution that allows you to create and manage ETF portfolios automatically
- Sarwa Crypto: An account that allows you to trade cryptocurrencies
The platform is acclaimed for its low fees, accessibility, transparency, and the promo code bonus. It is a great option for beginners or those looking for a local solution.
Their flagship product, Sarwa Invest, creates tailored portfolios using affordable index funds (ETFs), and charging an annual management fee between 0.5% and 0.8%, dependent on the portfolio size, in addition to a 0.1% underlying portfolio expense. Investors can further customize their Sarwa Invest experience by opting for Conventional, Halal, Socially Responsible Investing (SRI), or Crypto plans and can select from six distinct risk levels within each.
Sarwa Save is designed for those seeking a safer cash management option, promising a 3% projected return without imposing minimum balances or management fees. An alternative Halal version does charge a 0.5% management fee. Sarwa Crypto caters to cryptocurrency enthusiasts, allowing trades without commissions but applying a 0.75% spread, and supports various order types. For those focused on stocks and ETFs, Sarwa Trade offers trading exclusively on US stocks and ETFs with features like fractional shares, though it doesn’t support margin trading.
Moreover, Sarwa offers personalized financial consultations with their licensed experts. Transactions via local UAE banks are free of funding or withdrawal charges, and the platform adheres to fixed exchange rates for AED-USD conversions.
On the downside, it lacks important assets like bonds, options, or shares listed outside the USA. It is also a newcomer in the industry, with short track record when compared with some of the names mentioned here.
- Access to human financial advisor
- Low fees
- Slick and easy to use app
- Sarwa Invest (Robo-advisor) is a good option for beginners
- Sarwa Save is a good alternative to earn interest on cash
- Newcomer in the industry: short track record
- Limited asset offering: no bonds, options, or stocks listed outside the USA
Which Platform Is Best for the UAE?
As a resident of the UAE, there are several key factors to keep in mind when choosing online trading platforms:
- Is it regulated by a top-tier institution such as FCA or SEC?
- Is it authorised by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)?
- Does it provide an Islamic account?
- What’s the full range of products on offer?
- Is there an intuitive and modern mobile app?
- Do they provide social trading or substantial investor education?
- Are there fees competitive?
The best online broker for you depends on your specific profile, preferences, and objectives. Our research suggests that each of reviewed brokers is a “best trading platform” in its own way:
Explore the websites above and decide for yourself! If you have any questions or would like to leave some feedback, please don’t hesitate to do so in the comments below.
Please note that the above should not be seen as investment advice and should be considered information only. Investors should do their own due diligence about the best-suited services and opportunities for their risk levels, return objectives, and ESG considerations.
Which trading platform is best for the UAE?
We find that the best online trading platform for global traders remains IBKR, while eToro is best for those looking to invest commission-free. However, choosing an online broker continues to be a personal choice, and we’ve dedicated our website and our time to helping you make the most informed decision.
Which has the best mobile trading app for the UAE?
Each of the brokers above have great trading apps. Generally, you want to see an app that is intuitive, streamlined, and presents all the necessary information within a few seconds.
What is an islamic account?
An islamic account follows the principles of shari’a, or islamic law, that forbids the use of interest or interest-based lending in any form. Fortunately, many online brokers can accommodate muslim traders and offer interest- or swap-free accounts. Swaps often bear an interest element.
Why is the UAE an attractive region?
Dubai has long been a top destination for nomad capitalists or globally minded professionals for many years. Recently, as Covid-19 abates, renewed interest has made Dubai and Abu Dhabi great cities for new expatriates.
What is the minimum balance to start trading in the UAE?
Many brokers do not require a minimum balance, meaning you can start trading for as little as 1 AED, USD, or EUR, for example.