2014 a Stellar Year for DIFC with 18% Growth in Companies, 15% Increase in Leased Office SpacePress Release 18 Mar 2015 02:24 pm
Dubai, UAE- 18 March 2015: Dubai International Financial Centre, the mature global financial hub connecting the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) markets with the economies of Europe, Asia and the Americas, today announced results for 2014 that were the second strongest ever since its inception in 2004.
- An 18% increase in the number of active registered companies operating within the Centre, reaching 1,225 firms at the end of 2014, compared with 1,039 in 2013.
- 242 new companies licensed during 2014, compared with 199 new companies licensed in 2013, representing an increase of 22% over new companies licensed in 2013.
- The total workforce in the Centre rose 14% during 2014 to 17,860 people, from 15,600 at the end of 2013. The number of net new jobs created in 2014 was 42% more than the net new jobs created in 2013.
- Net additional leased commercial office space increased 15%, reaching 282,000 sq ft in 2014, versus 245,000 sq ft in 2013.
The growth in new companies means that on average, DIFC granted license to one new company every working day of the year. Only the boom year of 2008 registered a higher number of new company licenses.
The total net new commercial office space leased during the year was also one of the highest on record and represents the equivalent of leasing all of the office space available in the Gate Building.
Of the 1,225 total active firms at the end of 2014, there were 362 financial services firms, up 11% from the 327 last year; 682 non-financial services firms (additionally 10 firms were provisionally approved at the end of 2014), up 21% from the 565 non-financial firms last year, and 171 retailers, up 18% from the 145 retailers last year.
His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of DIFC Authority, remarked:
"These results demonstrate that Dubai International Financial Centre continues to be the destination of choice for regional and international financial services firms looking to access the growing opportunities available in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. DIFC also facilitates the continued development of South-South trade and investment.
"DIFC is the only centre in this broad region of more than 2.8 billion consumers that not only offers a tested, world-class legal and regulatory regime, but also a globally connected, highly rated financial services environment, a deep pool of talent and expertise, and an attractive business environment and broader city that appeals to global financial professionals."
A Decade of Success
Ahead of DIFC's formal celebration in November marking 10 years of operations, DIFC held several international events to share the many successes achieved over the past decade. These functions included a luncheon with senior business and government officials in Washington, DC, and an evening reception for delegates attending the spring meeting of the Institute of International Finance in London.
The gala celebration in Dubai marking 10 years of DIFC operations was held in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of DIFC. Former US Vice President Al Gore also attended the event reflected on how far the Centre has come during the past decade in honouring the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, who said in launching the Centre in 2004 that through DIFC, "This region will have a presence on the map of international business and market networks."
This is reflected not only in the breadth of firms operating in DIFC but in the opinions of third-party rankings too. In October 2014, Dubai was ranked fifth globally among international financial centres by The Banker. Only London, New York, Singapore and Hong Kong ranked higher. In September 2014, the Global Financial Centres Index ranked Dubai as the top centre across the vast region stretching between Singapore and Switzerland, and named Dubai as one of 10 centres likely to become more significant.
What's more, DIFC is home to 21 of the world's top 25 banks, 11 of the world's top 20 money managers, 7 of the top 10 insurance companies, and 9 of the top 10 law firms.
Developing One of the Region's Most Desirable Business Addresses
DIFC continued to be one of the most desirable business addressees in Dubai and represented a key component of the city's Central Business District. During the year, a total of 282,000 sq ft of net additional office space was leased, 15% more than the 245,000 sq ft of net additional office space leased in 2013.
Demand for DIFC-owned and managed office and retail space remained strong during 2014, with occupancy remaining at nearly 100%. Reflecting this, DIFC's fourth Business Centre opened in November, and by December, all 11,000 sq ft of serviced and furnished offices had been leased. The Business Centre is located in Gate Village Building 2.
Also during 2014, the DIFC-managed Al Fattan Currency House achieved 100% occupancy of its office and retail space.
The two-tower Central Park project was completed and handed over in December 2014, adding 1.57 million sq ft of office, residential and retail space to DIFC. The 48-storey residential tower offers 575,000 sq ft of gross leasable area, while the office tower has 892,026 sq ft of net leasable office space.
Oversubscribed Sukuk a DIFC Success
In early November, DIFC Investments successfully launched and priced a US$700 million Sukuk following a roadshow in Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore and London that closed with an order book of approximately US$3 billion, indicating that the Sukuk was approximately 4.3 times oversubscribed.
The strong international investor interest in the Sukuk reflects DIFC's solid credit fundamentals and their confidence in the real estate development plans for DIFC.
As well, by listing the Sukuk on Nasdaq Dubai, already one of the world's largest Sukuk exchanges, DIFC further strengthens Dubai's position in Islamic finance, as it builds its role as the capital of the global Islamic economy. Through its support of Islamic finance in the Centre, DIFC is a major enabler of this vision.
New Law Reinforces Legal Leadership
Continuing its leadership in bringing first-of-a-kind financial laws and regulations to the region, in December 2014, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) saw the enactment of the Netting Law, DIFC Law No. 2 of 2014.
This law provides legal certainty in the DIFC on the enforceability of close-out netting in the case of insolvency. DIFC is now one of approximately 45 jurisdictions worldwide that have enacted specific netting legislation and among approximately 60 jurisdictions in total where netting procedures apply.
Building Bridges, Expanding Opportunities
In November, DIFC participated in the Boao Forum for Asia (BFA) Financial Cooperation Conference that was held in Dubai, further boosting the strong trade and investment links between China and Dubai, as well as Dubai's role as a financial hub and gateway for China into the Middle East, Africa and South Asia market. The forum is considered the most prestigious business gathering in Asia, similar to the World Economic Forum in Davos.
In October, DIFC was a key supporter of the GR Executive Briefing LIVE, an event offering a platform for regional discussion of key insurance and reinsurance topics. Also, in this sector, DIFC supported the Rendezvous De Septembre, a global reinsurance conference held annually in Monte Carlo. The event provided an opportunity for DIFC officials to meet with global players operating in this industry, both through various meetings and conference sessions, as well as through a DIFC-hosted lunch that offered a platform for DIFC to raise awareness of how it supports companies operating in this field and looking to expand in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region.