Q. What is the significance of DIFC?

A. DIFC is the first world class, international centre serving the region which includes the Middle East, East and North Africa, the Caspian states and the Indian SubContinent. It is a region of 1.8 billion people (about a third of the world population) and a combined economy worth $1.5 trillion in terms of GDP, growing at an annual rate in excess of 5 per cent a year. DIFC is designed to span the time zones not covered by New York, London and Hong Kong. It will complete the missing quarter in the 24 hour, 7 day week, global financial system. DIFC will act as a catalyst to the region's economic development-just as Wall Street, the City of London and Hong Kong have contributed to the growth of the US, European and Asian economies.

Q. What exactly is "world class" about yet another international financial centre?

A. In DIFC, we have created an international financial centre to match those of London, New York and Hong Kong, with a regulatory framework built on the best practices found in those leading jurisdictions. This is critical to the leading financial institutions the Centre is seeking to attract. They need to have the peace of mind of knowing that, when they locate in DIFC, their reputations will be safe because the regulations, and the application of the regulations, will be of world class standards. The Regulations and Company Laws have been written in English and benefit from extensive consultations with, and submissions from, leading financial institutions and law firms. Aside from world class supervision and regulation, DIFC is an on-shore financial centre, offering a highly attractive business environment including: 100 percent foreign ownership zero percent tax rate on income and profits wide network of double taxation treaties available to UAE incorporated entities no restrictions on foreign exchange or capital/profit repatriation dollar denominated environment transparent operating environment with high standards of rules and regulations strict supervision and enforcement of money laundering laws ultra modern office accommodation, state-of-the-art technology, sophisticated infrastructure, data protection/security, operational support and business continuity facilities of uncompromisingly high standards.

Q. Why is Dubai the choice location for an international financial centre?

A. DIFC was initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. He had the original vision to create an international financial centre in Dubai. It is a logical development from other recent initiatives such as Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City to establish Dubai as a hub for the region. Dubai satisfies all of the conditions that banks and other financial institutions look for. It is a cosmopolitan, first world city with a long history of political and social stability. It has a large highly educated, multi-lingual, multi cultural work of skilled professionals. It has excellent communication links within the region and to other financial centres. It has a proven record over 30 years of delivering ambitious business projects such as technology, trade, sport, travel and tourism. It has a very supportive government and an un-bureaucratic approach to business, with some of the best tax and other financial incentives anywhere in the world. Its sophisticated lifestyle and safe living conditions make it a popular place to locate for business executives and their families. The fact that 139 of the Fortune Global 500 companies have located in Dubai is proof of this.

Q. Who does DIFC expect to attract?

A. The world's top banks, insurance companies and other financial institutions. Already more than 100 of the top 200 largest global institutions have expressed an interest in locating in DIFC.

Q. Who has already signed up?

A. Click here to view the client directory.

Q. Is DIFC just another offshore tax haven?

A. No. DIFC is an onshore financial centre. It is comparable in the quality of its laws, regulation and supervision to London, Hong Kong, Tokyo or New York. With world class regulation, reporting requirements and transparency, it is clearly not an offshore centre. Nor is it a tax haven. Although the tax rate is zero, it not attracting any personal business. It is a wholesale not a retail finance centre, attracting business from institutions rather than individuals.

Q. Who can guarantee DIFC's independence?

A. Its independence is enshrined in the Dubai Law No.9 of 2004. This established the Centre as a Financial Free Zone with a substantial degree of sovereignty. The independent operation of DIFC will be safeguarded by its strong team of independent regulators recruited from internationally recognised regulatory bodies and financial institutions.The history of so many successful business projects in Dubai over the last 30 years is one of independent operation. It is in the interests of Dubai, as well the international financial community, that DIFC should operate independently.

What's in it for the people of the region?]

Q. Is this just a rich businessman's enterprise?] What's in it for the people of the region?

A. The creation of world class capital markets in Dubai will help transform the economies of the region. The inflow of investment capital will create many jobs not only in Dubai and the UAE, but also in the wider region.

Q. With such high quality regulation and transparency, will DIFC really be business-friendly?

A. Financial institutions which depend on the trust placed in them by their customer want good regulation to protect their reputations. One has only to think of the systemic damage caused to other financial centres whose lax regulations have resulted in market abuse and criminal behaviour. DIFC's regulation and supervision will be easy to use but very difficult to abuse with impunity. At the same time, businesses will benefit from DIFC's favourable tax and other financial incentives, as well as its un-bureaucratic approach to procedures and administration.

Q. What is DIFC doing to keep a check on money laundering?

A. DIFC has very tough, state of the art laws and regulation designed to combat money laundering. While no government can be certain of stamping out money laundering completely, DIFC will be one of the world's best armed jurisdictions in combating money laundering.

Q. In what areas will DIFC be issuing operating licences?

A. There are several key areas of business, for more information click here. Licences will cover business in the UAE, the region and the rest of the world. We are deliberately excluding retail banking and only including private banking for high net worth individuals with accounts in excess of USD 1 million per account.

Q. What is the licence fee structure of DIFC?

A. DIFC's licence fees are on a par with those in other international financial centres such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

Q. What does a zero tax rate mean?

A. It means there will be no personal or corporate taxes levied for 50 years. This is guaranteed by Dubai Law No. 9 of 2004. The guarantee is renewable for a further period. No municipal or local authority taxes, levies or charges will be payable by institutions operating in DIFC for a similar period.

Q. What is the extent of foreign ownership for companies located in DIFC?

A. 100 per cent foreign ownership is permitted. A branch office or a DIFC incorporated subsidiary will also be allowed to apply for a licence.

Q. What are the labour laws applicable to DIFC licensees?

A. DIFC Employment Law applies to DIFC licensees. Click here to view the laws.