Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the financial and business hub connecting the Middle East, Africa and South Asia’s markets with the developed markets of Europe, Asia and the Americas, provides the market with an update on its solid performance during 2012.
Jeffrey Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority remarked:
“Dubai’s unique proposition and geographical positioning provide unrivalled opportunities in terms of connectivity and accessibility to the thriving Middle East, Asian and African markets. The growth we have witnessed within DIFC reflects the ongoing demand among international businesses for a presence in the region.
In spite of global economic challenges, DIFC has delivered a robust performance across all areas of the business. Our strategy remains the same and by capitalising on our world-class infrastructure and internationally recognised legislative and regulatory framework, we are creating a platform for global and regional companies to build fruitful and sustainable business relationships within a comprehensive financial environment.”
Despite the economic uncertainty resulting from the ongoing crisis in the Eurozone and political volatility around the Middle East in 2012, Dubai has continued to build its reputation as an international financial hub for the region.
The number of active registered companies within DIFC increased to 912 during the last year, with the addition of 38 regulated firms, including Bank of China Middle East (Dubai) Limited, Guy Carpenter (Middle East) Limited, Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance PLC, Abu Dhabi Capital Management Limited, Neuberger Berman Europe Limited, Standard Life International Limited and Dechert LLP; 111 non-regulated firms and 22 retail outlets to the Centre’s client portfolio. The combined workforce of companies registered with DIFC currently stands at approximately 14,000, a 16% growth rate in comparison to the previous year, representing over 120 nationalities.
DIFC’s increasingly diverse geographical mix of clients is reinforcing its growing reputation as the gateway between East and West, with the Centre currently facilitating regulated firms from across the globe, including 37% from Europe, 26% from the Middle East, 18% from North America, 11% from Asia, and 8% from the rest of the world.
There was a marked rise in the number of authorised firms within various license categories, in addition to a number of existing DIFC clients, such as Bank Sarasin-Alpen (Middle East) Limited, UBS AG and VTB Capital PLC, who have chosen to upgrade their licenses to a higher category in 2012. These numbers have indicated a significant increase in business activity and transactions from within the Centre.
Furthermore, many of DIFC’s current clients opted to grow their physical presence within the Centre by expanding their current office space by up to 10,000 square feet, a trend that was most apparent during the second half of the year.
DIFC has also progressed in its strategy to create an environment that supports business growth, and is now the location of choice for 19 of the world’s top 25 banks, 11 of the world’s top 20 money managers, 8 of the top 10 insurance companies, and 6 of the top 10 legal firms, solidifying its reputation as a prestigious and highly sought after business community.
Reinforcing the Centre’s reputation as an international financial hub for the region, Dubai is now ranked as the top financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and is placed as one of the top five global centres where international firms want to open offices, alongside Singapore, Hong Kong, London and Shanghai, as reported in the 12th edition of the Global Financial Centres Index in September 2012.
Soft Infrastructure Development
Companies based in DIFC continue to benefit from the Centre’s internationally recognised regulatory and legal framework, which effectively facilitates the growth of financial services and commercial activities.
In 2012, 4 DIFC laws were enacted by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ruler of Dubai. These included the Employment Law Amendment Law (DIFC Law No. 3 of 2012), Real Property Law Amendment Law (DIFC Law No. 4 of 2012), Data Protection Law Amendment Law (DIFC Law No. 5 of 2012), and Non-Profit Incorporated Organisation Law (DIFC Law No. 6 of 2012).
DIFC continued to form long-lasting and mutually beneficial partnerships with its clients by signing three Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with TheCityUK, the Australia Gulf Council and New South Wales Trade & Investment, bringing the total number of MoUs signed to 18.
Physical Infrastructure Development
The increasing number of clients, in addition to the internal expansion of companies already existing within DIFC, has contributed to significantly high occupancy rates within the Centre. As of 31 December 2012, occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District (Gate Building, Gate Precinct and Gate Village) remained high at 94% of leasable space (total commercial office space:1,370,000 square feet), and 98% occupancy rates of DIFC-owned retail space (total retail space: 229,000 square feet).
The occupancy within third party owned office space managed by DIFC under the Property Lease Management Agreement (PLMA) stands at 90% (total PLMA area: 535,000 square feet). This space includes Currency House, Currency Tower and part of Liberty House.
New companies registered with DIFC in 2012 accounted for the leasing of approximately 260,000 square feet of space, in addition to the physical growth of existing companies resulting in the lease of almost 35,000 additional square feet.
To meet the growing demand in DIFC, around 877,553 square feet of GFA (Gross Floor Area) of space has been made available in the Centre during the second half of 2012, in the form of the recently opened Daman offices. Office space is also available in other third party owned and managed properties including the Index Tower, Park Towers and Emirates Financial Towers.