Oversees operational management and administration of the DIFC
The DIFC Authority is the management body established to oversee the strategic development, operational management and administration of Dubai International Financial Centre. The Authority’s four-tiered management strategy aims to: contribute to Dubai’s reputation as a global business hub by maintaining international standards; provide a world-class physical, legal and regulatory infrastructure; ensure the financial sustainability of DIFC and the companies established in the centre; and support client growth through authority business process streamlining, service improvement, and enhanced management structures.
MESSAGE FROM THE CEO
Dubai International Financial Centre has raised the standards for excellence in the region’s financial industry. As a result of our client-focused approach, we are now widely recognised as one of the world’s fastest growing financial centres.
DIFC’s advanced commercial ecosystem is comprised of spectacular yet highly functional architecture, a physical environment supporting a diverse business community and a distinct cultural scene. Supported by an independent regulatory and legal framework, our highly successful business cluster model has attracted the best professional talent and optimises the many synergies between core and non-core financial industries.
In June 2015, we announced DIFC’s 2024 Strategy – a roadmap to achieve another decade of growth, consolidating our historical role linking developed and developing markets while further enhancing access to the economic opportunities of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. Through the strategy, we aim to leverage DIFC’s unique integration with the wider MEASA economy and facilitate increased trade and investment flows along the South-South corridor.
DIFC will remain a cornerstone of the UAE’s financial services sector, committed to the future success of Dubai through the introduction of strategic initiatives that strengthen its reputation as a hub for finance and investment.
In his capacity as Chief Executive Officer, Arif Amiri is responsible for overseeing the strategic and operational functions of the Authority, in line with DIFC's 2024 Strategy, and maintaining the Centre's position as one of the most significant and advanced financial centres across the globe.
Prior to joining DIFC Authority, Mr. Amiri held a number of positions within Emaar Properties PJSC, including Chief Commercial Officer, where he was responsible for driving the all-round commercial operations of the company. Before this, Mr. Amiri was also Chief Executive Officer of Emaar Retail, where he provided strategic and tactical leadership for the retail and entertainment operations of Emaar across Dubai and other key emerging markets.
Mr. Amiri's career began with an eight year term at HSBC Bank Middle East, where he was responsible for the implementation of a number of corporate and institutional banking initiatives. During this time, he established an in-depth understanding of the financial services sector, which continues to serve as a solid foundation for his role today.
To his credit, Mr. Amiri was appointed as the Chairman of the Middle East Investor Relations Society from 2008 to 2011. Underlining his significant contribution to the region's retail sector, Mr. Amiri received the Honorary Award at the Retail City Awards in 2011. He further won the Retail Leadership Award at the 2012 Asian Leadership awards.
Mr. Amiri holds a Post-Graduate Executive Diploma in Organisation Behaviour and Marketing Strategy from the University of Cambridge, Dubai, as well as a Bachelor's Degree in Aviation Business Administration from the Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Florida.
Rajesh joined DIFC in January 2011 as the Chief Financial Officer of DIFC Authority overseeing the financial performance of the DIFC Authority, DIFC Investments LLC and its subsidiaries ('DIFCI'), Registrar of Real Properties, Registrar of Companies, Hawkamah and other entities. Rajesh is responsible for overseeing the entire financial spectrum from strategic financial planning through to execution for these entities, while adhering to DIFC's values of transparency, efficiency and integrity. Rajesh implements financial best practices and industry standards in the Centre, including the development, management and monitoring of the Centre-wide revenue cycle.
One of the key milestones achieved by Rajesh with DIFC in 2012 was his instrumental role in directing and managing the refinancing of the US$1.25 billion DIFCI Sukuk and its repayment in June 2012. This involved high level discussions with various stakeholders, local and international banks, lawyers and financial advisors. The refinancing was achieved through a syndicated facility of US$1.035 billion with participation from international and local banks and key divestments. The transaction was a dual tranche five-year Islamic facility and included both Commodity Murabaha and Ijarah tranches. This was a landmark transaction which was very well received by the market and recognised the strategic importance of the Centre to Dubai. He successfully managed relationships with investors and the rating agencies in order to maintain the Sukuk's rating from January 2011 to June 2012.
In 2014, Rajesh effectively spearheaded DIFC Investments' credit repositioning initiative by engaging with Standard & Poors, which resulted in the Company achieving an investment grade rating (BBB-); this required the re-anchoring of the rating agency's understanding of DIFC Investments' credit fundamentals (given that the Company was previously rated "B+"). Lead the Sukuk issuance, following the rating exercise, marking the return of DIFC Investments to the international Debt Capital Markets, allowing the Company to raise $700mn with a 10-year tenor. The pricing achieved was well inside "theoretical fair-value", with the Company pricing flat or inside Dubai-based peers with higher ratings. Ultimately, the credit repositioning, along with the Sukuk issuance provides DIFC Investments with an effective capital structure and a platform to implement its growth strategy over the coming years. The Sukuk deal has been awarded the prestigious Islamic Finance News (IFN) Award - Ijarah Deal of the Year. DIFC is the only Dubai name to have won any award from IFN during 2014.
Rajesh is a Chartered Accountant with over 16 years of experience advising key clients with the Big 4 accounting firms across a broad range of services. Prior to joining DIFCA, Rajesh was a Director at KPMG Dubai, where he worked for more than 8 years. Rajesh is an Associate with the Institute of Chartered Accountants, India. He also holds a Bachelors of Commerce with Honours in Finance and Accounting and has done a General Management Programme from IIM Ahmedabad, India.
In his capacity as Chief Business Development Officer, Salmaan Jaffery is responsible for developing and executing business strategies aligned with the DIFC's 2024 growth ambitions. The business development team, under Mr. Jaffery's direction, identifies and evaluates potential partnership opportunities that serve business and client growth within the DIFC community.
Mr. Jaffery has 20 years of extensive operating and advisory experience working with global financial services and consulting firms across the Middle East & North Africa, Asia and North America. During this time, he has established a track record for earning trust and delivering value to clients by developing new revenue opportunities, improving performance and driving organisational change. Mr. Jaffery has cultivated a vast network of peer and C-Suite relationships and is an accomplished thought leader in customer centricity and Islamic finance.
Before joining the DIFC Authority, Mr. Jaffery held leadership roles in Conventional & Islamic Finance at PricewaterhouseCoopers and Ernst & Young Middle East. Prior to that, he held operating and finance roles at Citibank and American Express in New York. Mr. Jaffery has also led client teams at Oliver Wyman focused on customer driven growth strategies and new venture analyses.
Mr. Jaffery holds an MBA from Cornell University and a BA in International Relations (Phi Beta Kappa) from Colgate University in the United States. He is President of the Cornell University and Johnson School Clubs, Middle East and serves on the Boards of several non-profit organisations.
Jacques Visser heads the Legal Affairs division of the DIFC Authority. In addition, he holds the position of Secretary to the DIFC Higher Board and the Boards of the DIFC Authority and DIFC Investments LLC. Mr. Visser also currently serves as DIFC’s Security Registrar and Commissioner of Data Protection.
With over 20 years of experience as a financial services lawyer, Mr. Visser’s expertise lie in multi-jurisdictional investment structures, funds, asset management and regulatory matters in emerging markets, as well as investment strategies and related M&A transactions. During his expansive career, he has established a number of landmark funds and investment structures relevant to the MENA region.
In his previous role, Mr. Visser worked as National Partner at Dechert LLP in Dubai. During his tenure at Dechert LLP, The Legal 500, an international guide to top-tier legal firms and practitioners, listed him as one of the top three most notable lawyers in the UAE investment funds industry, while MENA Fund Manager recognised him as one of the 50 most influential individuals in the industry in the Middle East and North Africa region.
Prior to Dechert, Mr. Visser ran his own consultancy firm, where he focused on advising a number of emerging and frontier market investment boutiques. He was also a founding partner and Managing Director of DIFC-based firm Algebra Capital, which was sold to Franklin Templeton Investments in 2011. Following the acquisition, Mr. Visser served as the Executive Managing Director and supervised the merger of the two firms.
He has in the past, and continues to serve outside the UAE, as a board member and advisory board member of funds, financial institutions and a technology startup.
Mr. Visser holds a Master’s degree in Banking and Capital Markets Law (LLM) from the University of Johannesburg, and a Postgraduate Diploma in Competition Law from the University of the Witwatersrand in South Africa. In addition, he holds a Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Law (LLB) degree from the same university.
In his role as Executive Vice President of Strategy & Business Excellence at the DIFC Authority, Chirag Shah is responsible for facilitating the continuous growth of the Centre and has been an integral part of the DIFC's journey towards becoming a leading global financial hub.
Mr. Shah has worked in strategic and high impact influencing positions (Strategic Consulting, Industry and Government/Sovereign Wealth Funds) in the major emerging market blocks of Middle East, Africa and South Asia during a time when these regions saw dramatic shifts and development of the financial services industry.
He has deep Financial Services domain knowledge across Commercial & Investment Banking, Wealth/Asset Management & Private Banking, Capital Markets/Securities Brokerage, Islamic Finance, Consumer & Personal Financial Services and Regulatory Policy.
Mr. Shah holds a Master's degree in Business Administration (MBA Finance), a Bachelor's degree in Commerce and is also a qualified Chartered Accountant.
Raja Al Mazrouei
In her capacity as Senior Vice President of Marketing & Corporate Communications, Raja Al Mazrouei steers the marketing and communications strategy for the Dubai International Financial Centre, in line with its mission and vision.
Ms. Al Mazrouei is responsible for overseeing the public relations, institutional partnerships and community engagement, branding and digital marketing functions for the organisation on a regional and global scale. The brand awareness and positioning she has established is an integral component in communicating and representing the DIFC brand internationally and across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, reinforcing its standing as a leading international financial centre.
With greater engagement in target geographies significantly driving the DIFC 2024 Strategy, Ms. Al Mazrouei plays a key role in building awareness, increasing media outreach and facilitating partnerships in core markets such as China, India, Africa, the United Kingdom and the United States. In addition, Ms. Al Mazrouei is tasked with identifying and leveraging marketing and communication opportunities to enhance the synergy between the DIFC 2024 Strategy and Dubai Plan 2021.
Ms. Al Mazrouei previously held key roles within DIFC Authority as Head of Operations and Head of Information Technology. Her success in leading these teams contributed to Ms. Al Mazrouei being appointed Commissioner of Data Protection of DIFC by Presidential Resolution in 2014 – a position she held until July 2016.
Prior to joining DIFC Authority, she held roles as the Head of Information Technology at National Bonds and Director of IT Relationship Management at Dubai Holding.
Ms. Al Mazrouei holds an MBA in Global Leadership & Management from the United Arab Emirates University, a Bachelor’s in Business Information Technology from the Higher Colleges of Technology and a Graduate of the Harvard Business School’s Advanced Management Program. She is also a member of the Harvard Business School MENA and Central Asia Advisory Board.
Jaber Al Suwaidi
Jaber Humaid Al Suwaidi has been with the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFC) since 2005. As the Registrar of Real Properties (RORP), a position he has held since 2010, he is responsible for ensuring adherence to relevant legislation as well as to help realize operational best practices in order to deliver optimal service in terms of quality and efficiency. He is also responsible for establishing and implementing the Real Properties Titles registry system and diligently keeping internal policy at international industry standards. Before that, Al Suwaidi was Assistant Manager at the Leasing department in DIFC, where he managed all existing and future property leasing contracts and developed efficient policies for the real estate department in the legal, financial, project development and strategy sectors.
Al Suwaidi comes with seven years of experience in the real estate management industry. He holds a Diploma in Real Estate from the Dubai Real Estate Institute and a Foundation Diploma from the Emirates Aviation College.
Alya Al-Zarouni became Senior Vice President - Government & Registry Services at the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) in 2012. In this role, she is responsible for driving the strategic direction across the DIFC Authority's Government Services, Registrar of Companies and Registrar of Properties offices, as well as delivering results against continually rising performance benchmarks and spearheading new initiatives to enhance the customer experience at DIFC.
During her tenure, she has led transformation initiatives across the three offices to redesign and automate processes for efficiency, reducing human error, and improving waiting and turnaround times. She also is a key liaison between the DIFC Authority and government entities and other free zones in areas such as knowledge sharing and benchmarking.
Prior to taking on her current role, Mrs. Al-Zarouni was Director of Government Services Office, where she provided strategic direction and secured the office's first-ever satisfactory ISO audit. Mrs. Al-Zarouni joined the DIFC Authority in 2006 in the Programme Management Office, where she rose from Assistant Manager to Director. During her tenure, she partly managed and assisted project managers in handling a number of complex projects in the Centre. She began her career at Mercator, the IT division of Emirates Airlines, as a Graduate Trainee where she successfully graduated the programme and became a Business Analyst, enhancing the airline's human resources IT system.
Mrs. Al-Zarouni earned both her BSc in Computer Science and MBA from the American University of Sharjah. She is a PMI Certified Project Management Professional (PMP), an LRQA certified ISO 9000:2000 Series Auditor/ Lead, and an LRQA Certified Internal QMS Auditor. She was named the DIFC Distinguished Employee of the Year in 2009 and received the Rising Star Award – Best National Trainee at Mercator in 2005.
Khalid Al Zarouni
Khalid Mohamed Al Zarouni has been the Registrar of Companies at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) since 2010, after serving as the Assistant General Counsel from 2008. His duties entail serving as an agent of the Government of Dubai for DIFC and to ensure adherence to relevant legislation, including Companies Law, Limited Partnership Law, General Partnership Law, Limited Liability Partnership Law and Insolvency Law. He also helps realise operational best practices in order to deliver optimum service in terms of quality and efficiency.
Prior to this, Al Zarouni, who has over 14 years' experience and practice in civil law and common law specialized in economic and commercial laws, was a Senior Legal Consultant at the Department of Economic Development (DED), where he engaged in matters representing DED with governmental and non-governmental organisations on issues related to legal attributes of DED and participated in developing internal regulations.
Al Zarouni holds a Bachelor's degree in Sharia and Law from the United Arab Emirates University in Al Ain, and a Master's degree in Commercial Law from Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia, and is graduate of the London Business School's Leadership Program.
Madeya Al Ajtabi
Madeya Al Ajtabi is Vice President and Acting Head of Human Resources of the DIFC Authority. Leading the development of HR strategy and planning, in line with business goals and priorities, Ms. Al Ajtabi works with the business leaders at DIFC to turn their aspirations and plans into action. Her other key focuses are on timely availability of the required talent, promoting an enabling and engaging work culture and creating an agile and aligned leadership team.
In her role, Ms. Al Ajtabi is responsible for the entire spectrum of HR services. She serves as the interface and guide for all HR related matters, helping DIFC to better leverage its human resources and acting as a strategic partner to the business. In addition, Ms. Al Ajtabi also provides effective HR operational and transactional services, creating and delivering practical and efficient processes, tailored to the DIFC’s unique and evolving business needs.
An accomplished Human Resources professional with over 11 years of experience in the UAE, Ms. Al Ajtabi’s expertise lie in strategic planning for business, organisational development and performance management. She is also well versed in facilitating rigorous team training and driving specific recruitment initiatives to meet the needs of the business.
Prior to joining DIFC Authority, Ms. Al Ajtabi started her career at Dubai Customs where she worked as an HR Officer. Ms. Al Ajtabi joined DIFC in May 2006 and advanced her career from focusing on recruitment to becoming DIFC’s HR Business Partner in 2011. She went on to become Associate Director and Assistant Vice President of the HR function before being promoted to Vice President and Acting Head in May 2016.
Ms. Al Ajtabi holds a Bachelor’s in Applied Science of Information Management 2007 and a Higher Diploma in Information Administration 2005, both from the Dubai Women’s College, Higher Colleges of Technology.
In his role as Vice President of Internal Audit at DIFC Authority, Mohammed Beelall Ramdianee is responsible for managing all internal audit activities and accomplishing an independent, objective, cost effective and efficient internal audit function.
He is mandated by the DIFC Authority’s Board Audit Committee to undertake assurance and consulting activities in order to add value and enhance DIFC Authority’s operations.
Mr. Ramdianee brings to DIFC a wealth of international experience spanning more than 25 years in audit, accountancy, risk identification & management and consulting fields across various sectors, including but not limited to education, real estate, hospitality and retail. His expertise include performing traditional risk-based internal audits, as well as undertaking advanced specialised reviews in the areas of governance, strategy, compliance and process maturity assessments.
Prior to joining DIFC, Mr. Ramdianee served as Senior Audit Manager at Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), where he conducted risk assessments, developed risk-based internal audit plans, and led the implementation of audit plans.
In an earlier role, he worked as Senior Audit Manager for Group Internal Audit at Dubai World where, in addition to his core audit activities, he spearheaded the implementation of Quality Management System which eventually resulted in the Group Internal Audit achieving the ISO 9001-Quality Management System accreditation. He has also worked as Audit Manager at DCDM, a leading audit firm in Mauritius, where he was in charge of financial audit assignments locally as well as in various African countries.
Mr. Ramdianee holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration from The University of Manchester. He is a Fellow Member of the Chartered Association of Certified Accountants (FCCA) as well as a Certified Internal Auditor (CIA) and a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE).