Investing has never been cheaper and simpler than in the current day and age. However, choosing the best trading platform has probably never been more challenging. There are many differences between the platforms, including product selection, commissions, competitive price spreads, ease of trading, regulation, etc.
In this article, we will save you time and energy by giving our unbiased review of the six best trading platforms available to investors in the UAE.
These platforms also vary in other aspects, such as minimum deposits, different currency support, the ability to automate your investing process, analysis tools, educational content, and more.
A short comparison of the best trading platforms in Dubai & the UAE
|Broker||Fees for US stock trading||Minimum deposit||Trading apps||Stocks available|
|Interactive Brokers||From $0.0005 (Tiered) to $0.005 (Fixed) for US stocks||$0||IBKR GlobalTrader, IBKR Mobile||✔|
|eToro||No commissions (spread and conversion fees may apply)||$50||eToro||✔|
|Sarwa||No commissions (Sarwa Trade)||$1||Sarwa||✔
|Freedom24||From $0.008 to $0.02 per share + 1.2€ to 2€ minimum per order (depending on the account type)||$0||Freedom24||✔|
|Plus500||0.006$ per share (higher on other exchanges).||$100||Plus500 Trading||✔ (Plus500Invest)|
|XTB||$0 on the CFDs on stocks (0.30% markup included in the spread)||$0||xStation Mobile||X (only CFDs on stocks)|
Best online stock brokers and trading platforms in the UAE (2023)
- Interactive Brokers | Best global broker overall
Having been founded in 1978, it is one of the world’s most trustworthy brokers. It offers a wide selection of financial products (stocks, bonds, ETFs, mutual funds, currencies, options, and futures) from more than 150 global markets, at reasonable commissions and low currency exchange fees. The mobile trading app IBKR GlobalTrader is easy to use, even for novice investors.
- eToro | Ideal for low commissions & social trading
Since being founded in 2007, eToro has amassed over 30 million users by offering commission-free stocks & ETF trading. It also offers other financial products such as options and cryptocurrencies, as well as its innovative social investing service (copying and following other investors).
- Sarwa | Ideal for automated investing & beginners
An online financial advisor which automates the investing for the client. It creates your portfolio based on the level of selected risk and executes the trades automatically. Suitable for beginners and those who do not have the time to invest themselves.
- Freedom24 | Ideal for IPO investing
A broker best known for its access to stock IPOs for individual investors (previously only accessible to institutional investors). It is the only European broker listed on the NASDAQ exchange and it was founded in 2008. Other financial products available through the platform include stocks, ETFs, bonds, futures, and options.
- Plus500 | Ideal for CFD trading
Plus500 is one of the world’s leading CFD brokers, with zero trading commissions when trading CFDs in shares, options, ETFs, commodities, indices, and forex. It also enables trading with physical shares, through its Plus500 Invest service.
- XTB | Ideal for low-fee CFD and forex trading
One of the largest global stock exchange-listed brokers, which provides access to forex, indices, commodities, CFDs, and cryptocurrencies in hundreds of global markets. It also features commission-free trades and low spreads.
Below you can find a more detailed review for each platform. Keep in mind that top-tier regulators supervise all the companies mentioned here, such as the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) or the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC), which are listed along with additional regulators (if applicable).
Having been around since 1978 and surviving multiple financial crises, the Interactive Brokers’ major advantage is its reputation. It is also publicly listed on the NASDAQ exchange (ticker: IBKR), which makes it more regulated than some other platforms.
Other major advantages of using Interactive Brokers are its wide selection of financial products from over 150 markets, solid trade execution (IB SmartRouting), and accepting UAE dirhams (AED).
Some downsides of using Interactive Brokers are its complex fee structure, lengthier than average processes of registration and fund deposit, and limited commission-free trading. However, the last point is largely mitigated by the use of narrower spreads and lower FX fees than some of its competitors.
Speaking of the fee structure, there are two distinct plans to choose from – Tiered and Fixed, with the former depending on the trade volume. The fees also vary across different markets and you can see the full fee structure here.
The Interactive Brokers Trader Workstation (TWS) platform also offers many basic and advanced features, such as a demo account, watch lists, alerts and monitoring in real-time, advanced technical analysis tools, and more. One of the downsides of the platform is that the learning curve can be steep for beginners, even with provided educational materials.
The IBKR GlobalTrader mobile app is a much more intuitive choice for beginner investors, as it offers stocks, ETFs, and options trading in a more user-friendly format. Other features of the app include automatic currency conversions, fractional shares (only for US stocks), and more.
Overall, Interactive Brokers is a good choice for both beginners and advanced investors looking for a secure broker and access to a large variety of financial instruments.
Founded in 2007 and having over 30 million users globally, eToro is a well-renowned broker. The platform is most known for its feature called social trading, in which you can follow other investors’ trades and portfolios.
They also offer access to many of the most in-demand financial instruments, such as ETFs, Stocks, Cryptocurrencies and CFDs on Stocks, ETFs, Commodities, Forex, Indices, and Cryptocurrencies Commission-free trading is also available, but only for stocks and some ETFs.
The platform is intuitive and well-suited even for beginners, also offering trading with virtual funds. Account opening and making deposits are both easy and fast.
Some of the drawbacks include high spreads for some products, a $5 withdrawal fee, and only supporting one currency (USD). When depositing funds to eToro in AED the only payment method available is through a debit/credit card, and there is also a currency conversion fee which depends on the account tier level. You can check the fee structure in more detail here.
Islamic (swap- and interest-free account) is also available for all who fund their accounts with at least 1,000 USD and contact their customer service.
Sarwa is an investment platform with headquarters in the United Arab Emirates. It differs widely from the rest of the platforms on this list in the regard that it offers automated investing, among other financial products.
It is important to note that Sarwa offers different accounts such as:
- Sarwa Invest: automated ETF portfolios
- Sarwa Save: low-risk cash management account
- Sarwa Crypto: zero-commission cryptocurrency trading
- Sarwa Trade: zero-commission US stock and ETF trading
See more info about the Sarwa fee structure for different account types here. There are no funding or withdrawal fees when using a local UAE bank. The exchange rates for conversions between AED and USD are set at 3.6823 and 3.6639, respectively.
Sarwa Invest account creates a portfolio of low-cost index funds (ETFs), based on the risk profile of the user. From that point onwards, Sarwa simplifies the investing process by automating rebalancing, reinvesting dividends, and tax optimization. Management fees are set at 0.85% to 0.5% annually, based on the total portfolio value. There is also a 0.1% underlying portfolio cost. Inside Sarwa Invest, you can choose between Conventional, Halal, SRI (Socially Responsible Investing), and Crypto plans. There are also six different risk levels available for each investment plan.
Sarwa Save is a low-risk cash management account with projected returns of 3%, no account minimums and lock-ups, as well as no management fees (there is a Halal variant with a 0.5% management fee).
Sarwa Crypto offers commission-free crypto trading for top cryptocurrencies, but with 0.75% spreads. There are also market, stop, and limit orders (except for fractional trading, where only market orders are available).
Sarwa Trade enables zero-commission stock & ETF trading, but only on US exchanges. Some of the features include fractional shares, watchlists, and different order types, but there is no margin trading.
Personalized financial advice and planning with Sarwa’s licensed advisors are also available.
Freedom24 was founded in 2015 and has since offered its retail clients stocks of hundreds of companies making an IPO (Initial Public Offering) at the starting price, previously only available to institutional investors. They also offer stocks, stock options, bonds, and ETFs on major exchanges in Europe, Asia, and the United States.
The company is based in the EU (Cyprus) and is also listed on the NASDAQ exchange (ticker: FRHC) since 2019.
The platform is available both through PC and mobile app versions, with both being intuitive and simple enough for beginners. They offer additional features such as “InvestIdeas” and a high-yield “Savings D-account”, but lack some of the more advanced options commonly found on other platforms.
The ability to purchase new stocks at IPO prices is definitely the major advantage of Freedom24, and one which sets it apart from other platforms. However, be aware that the minimum requirement to participate in an IPO is set at 2,000 USD.
On the downside, the fee structure is complex, offering different rates for different subscription levels (which start from 0 USD per month). There is also a 7 USD withdrawal fee and an above-average currency conversion fee for all subscription levels. You can see all the fees in more detail here.
Founded in 2008, Plus500 is a trading platform which is offering a wide range of financial products across two distinct account types:
- Plus500 Invest: stocks (physical shares)
- Plus500 CFD: CFD investing
It is also listed on the London Stock Exchange and is available in over 50 countries.
The web platform (WebTrader) offers an intuitive interface with access from multiple devices, including a mobile app. There is also a demo account option to test the features and trade with virtual funds.
Plus500 offers accounts in 16 different currencies (including USD, EUR, and GBP, but not AED). There is also a currency conversion fee (up to 0.70% of the trade’s realized net profit and loss) and a $10 monthly inactivity fee (following three months of not logging in to the platform).
Plus500 CFD fees come mainly from the buy/sell (Bid/Ask) spread, which varies across different instruments. When using Plus500 Invest, there is also a small commission for each trade, depending on the exchange you’re using (0.006$ per share on US exchanges). Read more about their fees here.
Islamic (swap-free) accounts are also available for residents of the UAE, and there is also a Plus500 subsidiary in the UAE, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).
Founded in 2002, XTB is a platform with over 600,000 users and is mainly oriented toward CFD and forex investing. It is regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and listed on the Warsaw Stock Exchange.
The fee structure is somewhat complex, with XTB charging high commissions on CFDs and currencies but low commissions for forex trading. There is an inactivity fee of 10 EUR/month after one year of non-trading and also in the case of not making a deposit in the previous 90 days. You can find the full fee structure here.
The account opening and fund depositing process is quick and easy and there is also a demo account available for virtual trading.
Islamic (swap-free) accounts are also available for residents of the UAE, and there is also an XTB subsidiary in the UAE, which is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).
Which platform is best for the UAE?
Various factors need to be considered when choosing an investment platform. There is no such thing as the best platform for everyone. We presented the main features of each platform in the article, but have in mind that different investors will value different factors more when making this decision.
Some of the most important things to have in mind when choosing an investment platform are:
- Is it offering the range of financial products that I am interested in?
- Is it authorised by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to provide services in the UAE?
- Is it regulated by financial institutions, such as FCA, CySEC, or SEC?
- Does it have competitive fees?
- How is the user experience (registration process; web and mobile apps)?
- Does it offer an Islamic account?
We hope that this unbiased review helps you find the right platform for you.
What is an Islamic account?
An Islamic account follows the principles of shari’a (Islamic law), which 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.
What is the difference between a stock and a stock CFD?
While the stock gives you a property right over a share of the company, the CFD does not. The stock CFD is a derivative contract where the underlying asset is a stock and in which the broker promises to pay you back the difference in value between the time you opened the position and the time you close it. CFDs have a leverage effect: if you buy a stock CFD and its price goes down, you will need to borrow money from the broker to keep the position open. This makes the instrument a risky option that is not suitable for beginners.