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Mon 5 Mar 2018 02:02 PM

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Dubai's financial hub posts record growth in 2017

A total of 315 new companies registered in 2017, in addition to 384,200 sq ft of additional leased space

Dubai's financial hub posts record growth in 2017

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) posted a 1 percent increase in combined revenue in 2017, DIFC Governor Essa Kazim announced on Monday.

In its 2017 annual review, DIFC noted that combined revenue rose from $218 million in 2016 to $221 million in 2017, while operating profits – excluding fair value gain on investment properties – rose 8 percent, from $130 million in 2016 to $140 million in 2017.

Additionally, net profit rose 25 percent, from $79 million in 2016 to $99 million in 2017, while total assets rose 15 percent from $3.08 billion to $3.55 billion.

“If you take into consideration the re-evaluation of our assets, we will be adding around another $412 million,” Kazim noted.

According to Kazim, DIFC’s modest 1 percent revenue growth can be explained by the fact that DIFC has not increased rents, with revenue expected to go up once two new major projects open for business.

“Our revenue is mainly [derived] from the space that we lease. If the occupancy rate is 99 percent and we are not increasing our rents, then definitely our revenue can increase,” he said. “But certainly, adding two new projects to our portfolio, the Gate Avenue and the Exchange Building, will enhance our revenue going forward.”

“The Exchange Building will be mainly maintained by financial [companies] and Gate Avenue is a retail space, similar to a shopping mall,” he added.

A total of 315 new companies were added to DIFC’s rolls in 2017 – the most in DIFC’s history – bringing the total number of companies registered to 1,853. In comparison, a total of 305 companies were added in 2016, and 309 in 2015.

The strongest growth was recorded among non-financial companies (17 percent), followed by retail companies (7 percent) and financial companies (6 percent).

According to DIFC, a record 384,200 square feet of additional space were leased throughout 2017 – compared to 200,126 in 2016 – bringing the total amount of leased space to 3,839,857 square feet.

The total workforce in DIFC also rose, from 21,611 in 2016 to 22,338 in 2017.

In his remarks, Kazim said that DIFC is “on track” to reach the targets set forth in its 2024 growth strategy, which calls for a total of 1,000 financial firms to call DIFC home, 5.5 million square feet of occupied space, a total workforce of 50,000 and a balance sheet of $400 billion.

We’ve been [executing] this strategy for three years now and I think that most of our targets have been achieved,” he said. “We hope to increase all our targets and be beyond our targets by 2020.”

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