Dubai International Financial Centre Celebrates 10 years of Operations



Dubai - 10 November, 2014: "The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC)..will be a bridge for financial services between our region and the international markets 24 hours a day, seven days a week..so that this region will have a presence on the map of international business and market networks.". These were the words of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on launching the DIFC in 2004. Today the Dubai International Financial Centre, which has become a dynamic global financial hub connecting the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) markets with the economies of Europe, Asia and the Americas, will today celebrate 10 years of operations.

Over the last decade, the DIFC has successfully established itself as the region's leading financial centre, powering the growth of Dubai, the wider UAE, and many of the world's leading organisations and financial institutions. The DIFC is now home to 1,113 active registered companies with a combined workforce of 17,000. The DIFC has strongly supported Dubai's vision to broaden its economy over the last ten years, with the financial sector's contribution to GDP rising from 5.5% in 2004 to more than 12% today.

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor, Dubai International Financial Centre said today: "Today marks a milestone in the history of the DIFC and Dubai. Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, we have successfully established the region's leading financial centre, with our ambitions mirroring those of the wider vision for Dubai. Over the last ten years, Dubai has emerged as the key hub for commerce in the region, and the DIFC as the preferred destination for businesses and their employees."

In 2004, a law was enacted which facilitated the start of DIFC's operations, recognising the financial and administrative independence of the Centre. Since then, the DIFC has grown to become a city within a city, with a constantly evolving independent legal and regulatory framework on par with those of New York, London and Singapore. Combined with a world-class infrastructure which includes some of the region's top retail and leisure destinations, the DIFC has become a place where people choose to work, live and socialise.

Kazim continued: "Not only has the DIFC supported the growth of Dubai and the wider region, but we have also helped many of the world's leading financial institutions realise their own ambitions for the region. Despite the challenges the world has faced over the last decade, in particular in the financial sector, DIFC and Dubai have demonstrated their resilience, and their ability to grow through global turmoil. This gives us the confidence to embrace an even more ambitious vision for the next ten years and beyond, as we seek to establish ourselves as equals to the world's great financial hubs."

The Abraaj Group, a leading investor in global growth markets, is one of DIFC's anchor clients. Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Partner and Chairman of the Management Executive Committee at The Abraaj Group, commented: "Since it was established 10 years ago, the DIFC has grown to become one of the world's leading financial centres and is now home to many blue chip clients who share the numerous benefits of being based here. As a firm with six global hubs, Dubai is a key hub for us and the DIFC was the natural choice for our operations here, allowing us to effectively do business across the Middle East and Africa in addition to providing us with excellent connectivity to most of our other key markets".

Mohsin Nathani, Chief Executive Officer, Standard Chartered UAE said: "In 2006, we were the first international bank to invest and own a building in the DIFC. Today, we are amongst the largest organisations in the DIFC, with 1000 staff managing regional as well as some of our global operations. I would like to thank the DIFC for providing us with this world class financial infrastructure and platform that has helped accelerate our growth in the Middle East. The DIFC will continue to play a critical role in strengthening the position of Dubai and the UAE as the premier financial hub in the region."

By 2018 the DIFC aims to have 1,700 firms and 20,000 employees. With DIFC owned office space at 100% capacity, and the Centre set to grow further, a fourth business centre is currently under development in Gate Village Two, adding 11,000 sq ft of office space to accommodate new clients. Dubai's strategic location, connected to many of the world's fastest growing economies allows the DIFC to facilitate the major shift in capital flows from developed to emerging markets. Having successfully fulfilled its original aim of attracting US and European companies to the Centre, the DIFC continues to grow and innovate, targeting new geographies in order to meet the demands of its ever expanding and diverse client base. China and Africa will become primary targets for example, with the DIFC investing heavily to better serve these critical emerging economies.

The DIFC is also committed to supporting the Government's bid to secure Dubai's position as the leading Islamic economy hub based on the three-year strategy announced earlier this year by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. The DIFC has achieved significant milestones to date in establishing a world class legislation and regulation for Islamic finance institutions to develop and provide Shari'ah compliant products relevant to clients in the region and across the globe, and the DFSA will continue to work to evolve the regulation surrounding this sector.

Mohamed El Dishish, CEO, Emirates Retakaful Limited said: "We at Emirates Retakaful Limited aim to move ahead in new regional and international directions with a dedicated team. Our decision to choose DIFC has enabled us to smoothly transit our vision into reality with exceptional support and professional services provided by DIFC. Emirates RE looks forward to a mutual and beneficial growth with DIFC."

Kazim concluded: "As we look to the next decade and beyond, fuelled by our success to date, we are determined to strengthen our role as an international financial centre and Dubai's position as an international hub for business and finance, in line with the visionary plans of our national leaders."

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