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Sat 9 Mar 2019 01:08 AM

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15 years on: the impact of Dubai International Financial Centre

Growth at Dubai financial hub shows no signs of slowing with record number of new company registrations in 2018

15 years on: the impact of Dubai International Financial Centre
The DIFC 2.0 project aims to see the financial hub tripling in size by 2024.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has cemented its position as the top financial hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region (MEASA) with a record-breaking 12 months.

As it enters its 15th year of operations, DIFC reported a year of unprecedented growth, bringing the number of new company registrations to a record high of 437 as of the end of December, the highest since its inception in 2004.

This growth has resulted in a 15 percent year-on-year increase in the total number of active registered companies operating to 2,137, from 1,853 in 2017. Of these, 625 were financial firms. 

DIFC has also attracted an influx of local and international talent with 1,226 new jobs created, bringing the size of the its workforce to 23,604 professionals as at the end of 2018.

It also achieved strong financial performance with net profit increasing by 11 percent to $88 million.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and president of DIFC, said: “As the region’s leading financial centre enters a new period of growth through the recently announced plans for DIFC 2.0, this pioneering spirit underpins a new vision to drive the future of finance in MEASA and across the globe. 

"By aligning with the national government agenda that aims to ensure Dubai’s sustained prosperity and accelerate the development journey of the emirate, DIFC will remain at the forefront of financial sector advancement.”

Essa Kazim, chairman of DIFC Authority and governor of DIFC, added: “The success of 2018 demonstrates that DIFC is clearly on track for our ambitious 10-year strategy to triple in size by 2024.

“The centre is home to the largest cluster of financial institutions and most diverse pool of financial talent in the MEASA region. We continue to deliver on our commitment to lead the way towards a new financial landscape, and reinforce the foundations of a thriving business community and an inclusive financial sector.”

According to official figures, the geographic representation in DIFC remained consistent year-on-year, with 36 percent originating from the Middle East, 33 percent from Europe, 11 percent from Asia, 10 percent from the United States, and 10 percent from other countries.

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “2018 has been a year of unprecedented success for DIFC, not only in terms of growth, but also the depth of our offering and partnerships.

“We have seen increased momentum across all our key sectors, and particularly in FinTech, wealth management and aviation financing, all benefitting from the evolving legal and regulatory environment we offer. The new partnerships we have forged around the world, and the existing relationships we have strengthened, ensure the transfer of knowledge and continuous development of human capital in the region, which remains a priority for us in the year ahead.”

Serving a growing community of 23,604 professionals and an average footfall of 8.5 million visits a year, the premium real estate and retail offering of DIFC continued to gather momentum in 2018.

DIFC leased over 314,200 sq ft of commercial space, with The Exchange, the newest addition to the Gate Village, leasing 98 percent of its 114,000 sq ft of office space .

The number of retail and lifestyle entities which are connected through Gate Avenue grew to 281 from 226.

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