Dubai International Financial Centre Celebrates Solid Growth in First Half of 2014

Total number of registered companies up 7% to 1,113 since December 2013 with a combined workforce of 16,560

Dubai - 21 September, 2014: The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the dynamic global financial hub built to connect the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) markets with the economies of Europe, Asia and the Americas, today announced its growth and development figures for the first half of 2014. The DIFC, which this year celebrates its 10th anniversary of operations, continues to witness solid growth of its physical and soft infrastructure, reflected in its significant direct contribution to the economic activity in Dubai and the overall MEASA region.

Highlights for the period have included:

  • The number of active registered companies operating within the Centre reached 1113, a 7% increase from the end of December last year.
  • The combined workforce of DIFC is up 6% to 16,560 since the end of 2013.
  • There is a significant growth in active financial services firms and non-financial services firms companies registered with the DIFC, standing at 350 and 600 from 327 and 565 respectively as of the beginning of January 2014.
  • Further diversification of the retail portfolio within the DIFC has been achieved with 15 retailers registering in H1, 2014, marking a 9.4% increase to a total of 159 active retailers.
  • 111 commercial licenses have been issued since January 2014.
  • 15 New retailers, bringing the total number of active retailers to 159

During the first half of the year, His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, was appointed as Chairman of the DIFC Authority Board of Directors for a term of two years, under the directive of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

H.E. Essa Kazim said: "Over the past decade, the DIFC has been one of the fastest growing international financial centres in the world and we continue to enjoy a very strong momentum with a soundly established physical, legal, and regulatory infrastructure. The announcement of these results reflects our continued success and achievements. As we move into our next decade of operations, we will continue to strengthen our offer, which is helping to transform Dubai into a global hub for business and finance."

H.E. Essa Kazim continued: "As we look to the next 10 years and the future of DIFC, we are committed to driving this success further. With the region emerging as a major force in the global economy, the DIFC is well positioned to harness the increasing cross-border trade and investment activity, and continuing to develop Dubai and the UAE as a centre for financial excellence within the region, and the rest of the world. Our focus going forward remains on establishing Dubai as the leading Islamic economic hub and leveraging the major growth of capital markets within the region."

Operating review

The DIFC provides a stable, common-law regulated, supportive ecosystem for global financial and professional services institutions aiming to access and grow their businesses in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The Centre has gathered scale and significant mass over the last ten years and now hosts:

  • 21 of the world's top 25 banks
  • 11 of the world's top 20 money managers
  • 7 of the 10 largest insurance companies
  • 7 of the world's top 10 law firms

During the first half of 2014, the active registered companies operating within the Centre reached 1113, with 64 non-financial services firms joining the Centre, and an additional 31 financial services firms authorised.

The total number of active financial firms in the Centre reached 350 by the end of June, with a global and varied representation of 35% from Europe, 14% from North America, 30% from the Middle East, 12% from Asia, and 9% from the rest of the world.

These include Oaktree Capital Management, La Cloche Management, Fisher Investment, Al Khair Capital, Barwa Bank, Dar Group and Baker & McKenzie Habib Al Mulla, Catlin Middle East Limited,  Cooper Gay (Dubai) Limited, Nomura Asset Management U.K. Limited, Institute of International Finance (AFME) NPIO and HDFC Bank Limited to name a few.

Islamic Finance
The DIFC has retained its position at the forefront of developments within the Islamic finance sector in Dubai and globally. This follows the directives on the Islamic Economy Strategy announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, which are aimed at establishing Dubai as an Islamic Economy hub.

In April 2014, Emirates REIT (CEIC) Limited ("Emirates REIT" or the "REIT"), the first Shari'a compliant regulated real estate investment trust incorporated in the DIFC, announced that its ordinary shares have been admitted to the Official List of Securities of the Dubai Financial Services Authority ("DFSA") and admitted to trading on NASDAQ Dubai Limited. This came following a successful international initial public offering, which was 3.5 times over-subscribed.

The DIFC has continued to work closely with various partners to bring increased knowledge of the principles of Islamic finance to professionals based at the Centre. The Centre hosted an industry consultative meeting organised by the International Islamic Financial Market (IIFM), the Bahrain based international standard-setting body, which covered Sukuk Standardisation, including structures, documentation and guidelines. The meeting was attended by various industry stakeholders from around the world.

The Centre also partnered with Dar Al Sharia Limited-DIFC - Dubai Islamic Bank's (DIB) Sharia advisory arm - to offer short courses, free of charge, which covered the core principles of Islamic banking and finance and touched on their relevance in the modern day financial world.

International activity
This year, as the DIFC celebrates its 10th anniversary, the Centre launched a global outreach programme, to communicate its growing role as international financial centre. In May this year, a high level executive management delegation led by H.E. Essa Kazim, visited Beijing, China, to meet finance and business leaders and regulators from across the country, and build upon the increasingly important trade partnership between the UAE and China. In June, senior DIFC officials also visited London to participate in the IIF's annual Spring Membership Meetings, as well as meet with the key influencers across the sector.

The DIFC has also received official delegations in Dubai to discuss bilateral business and trade agreements and explore future opportunities, including the visit of the Lord Mayor of the City of London.

Physical infrastructure Developments
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) offers its clients a robust and enabling infrastructure to support them in achieving their business objectives. In March 2014, The DIFC Authority announced a revised Freehold Transfer Fee from 3.5% to 5%, following the publication of Consultation Paper No. 1 of 2014. In line with market trends, this secures the long term stability of the DIFC property Market, and addresses the International Monetary Fund's (IMF) concerns about overinflated markets.

Other highlights from H1, 2014 include:

  • 100% Occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices at The Gate district
  • 98% Occupancy of DIFC-owned retail space
  • 39 % Occupancy of third party owned commercial space

With existing DIFC owned commercial office space at 100% occupancy, the development of a fourth business centre in Gate Village Two is nearing completion, which will comprise of 11,000 sq ft of serviced and furnished offices.

In June 2014, the DIFC signed an agreement with Etihad Energy Services Company (Etihad ESCO), Dubai's official Super ESCO, driving the development of an ESCO market. This is in line with the 'Green Economy for Sustainable Development' initiative launched in 2012 by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and is aligned with the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030, which is committed to reducing energy demand by 30%. This move falls in line with the DIFC's commitment to incorporate sustainable, long-term energy solutions in line with global standards, in order to support Dubai's vision of becoming an internationally recognised energy efficient city.

In order to support In order to support extensive development plans and continue to grow the Centre's impressive infrastructure, the DIFC Authority continues to explore the financing tools available to fund these plans. DIFC Authority is currently evaluating the option of leveraging the recent momentum witnessed in the sukuk and debt markets through a sukuk or bond issuance or alternatively, may consider the use of proceeds through a syndicated loan facility or through incremental funding for development projects.

As it moves forward into the next 10 years and beyond, the DIFC continues to look to expansion into new services and sectors within the MEASA region, an area comprised of over 72 countries with an approximate population of 2.8 billion and nominal GDP of US$ 6.5 trillion, with a particular focus on China and the African continent. 

DIFC Operating Review - Arabic


DIFC Celebrates Growth


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