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Tue 10 May 2016 01:46 PM

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DIFC chief sees no threat from new rival financial hubs

Dubai International Financial Centre CEO says Abu Dhabi, Saudi banking hubs present opportunity rather than a threat

DIFC chief sees no threat from new rival financial hubs

The boss of Dubai's financial free zone has said he is unfazed by the development of rival banking hubs in the Gulf, saying the region still has opportunities to grow.

Dubai International Financial Centre CEO Arif Amiri said in comments published by Bloomberg that he was unconcerned about the rise of the likes of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah Financial District and the Abu Dhabi Global Market.

“There’s a $7.8 trillion economy within the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia (MENASA) region and I don’t think there is enough representation in terms of financial centres,” he was quoted as saying.

“There’s a lot of potential there for everybody to nurture and grow, it’s an opportunity rather than a threat.”

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said in February that the number of new company registrations increased by more than a quarter (27 percent) last year compared to 2014.

They increased from 242 to 309, the highest number achieved in a single year to date.

The size of the total workforce employed within DIFC also grew to 19,808, an 11 percent increase compared to the previous year and around 40 percent of the overall target DIFC has set as part of its 2024 growth strategy.

Saudi Arabia is restructuring its financial district and will be transformed into a special economic zone with its own regulations, visa exemptions, and direct links to Riyadh airport.

Meanwhile, Abu Dhabi is working to establish its new financial free zone as the financial technology, or 'Fintech', capital of the GCC.

Ahmed Al Sayegh, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), said in March that fintech was a fast-growing part of the international financial industry but that the GCC was not currently capitalising on this.

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