Dubai International Financial Centre Records 14% Growth in Companies in 2013

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, today announced its performance results for 2013.


  • The number of active registered companies operating within DIFC rose during the year to reach 1,039 companies at the end of December 2013, a 14% year-on-year increase.
  • 55 active financial services and 103 non-financial services firms registered in 2013, bringing the total to 327 and 565 at the end of the year.
  • The combined workforce of DIFC-registered companies is currently 15,600, an 11% growth over 2012.
  • Greater diversification of retail portfolio within DIFC, with 40 new outlets offering a range of services registered within the last year, taking the total to 145 active retailers.

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of DIFC Authority, remarked:

"Over the past year, DIFC has solidified its place among the top global financial hubs and has enhanced the Financial Services sector in the region. DIFC continues to contribute to both the progress and development of the UAE as a global financial hub by providing the necessary supporting frameworks benchmarked against international standards."

"Under the guidance of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, we enter into DIFC's second decade with the aim of growing financial services in the UAE by continuing to provide world class infrastructure, services and business opportunities."

"2013 was a year of significant growth and development for Dubai as a whole, with the UAE being awarded the Expo 2020 bid win, the initiative to move towards an Islamic Economy, and the MSCI upgrade of the UAE to 'emerging market' status. These trends were also reflected within DIFC and in its sustained efforts towards becoming a global financial hub for the region."

Jeffrey Singer, CEO of DIFC Authority, commented:

"The growth that DIFC has experienced in 2013 has been the highest achieved since the beginning of the Great Financial Crisis. We have created one of the best working environments in the world, attracting talent from across the globe. In this, our 10th year, we are proud to be able to report the significant growth of our community and expansion in terms of physical occupancy and the number of companies we have attracted to the Centre."

"There were several 'soft infrastructure' developments in 2013 - such as the introduction of framework for institutions to develop Sharia compliant products and services, thus ensuring Dubai will become an Islamic Finance hub, in line with the Dubai government's vision."

"In 2014 we will concentrate on the development of new markets such as Islamic Finance, Capital Markets, family businesses and growth markets such as Africa, providing additional business opportunities to firms based both within DIFC and the wider region."

Operating Review

The number of active registered companies within DIFC has increased to 1,039 during the last year, with the addition of 55 financial services firms, including Bank of London and the Middle East (BLME), Wells Fargo, Napier Park Global Capital, Carnegie Asset Management and Samena Capital; 103 non-financial services firms and 40 retail outlets to the Centre's client portfolio.

The combined workforce of companies registered with DIFC currently stands at approximately 15,600, an 11% growth rate in comparison to the previous year representing over 131 nationalities.

DIFC's increasingly diverse geographical mix of clients is reinforcing its growing reputation as the gateway between East and West. The Centre currently hosts regulated firms from across the globe, including 34% from Europe, 29% from the Middle East, 15% from North America, 12% from Asia, and 10% from the rest of the world.

There was a marked rise in the number of authorised firms within various license categories, in addition, a number of existing DIFC clients have chosen to upgrade their licenses to a higher category. These numbers have indicate a significant increase in business activity and transactions from within the Centre.

Furthermore, many of DIFC's current clients, including Emirates Retakaful Limited, China Construction Bank (Dubai) Limited, and International Finance Corporation, opted to grow their physical presence within the Centre by expanding their current office space.

DIFC is now the location of choice for 22 of the world's top 30 banks, 11 of the world's top 20 money managers, six of the top 10 insurance companies, and seven of the top 10 legal firms, solidifying its reputation as a prestigious and highly sought after business community.

Emerging as a top global financial centre, Dubai came 6th in The Banker (FT Business) ranking of international financial centres in October 2013, along with the first five, which include London, New York, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Frankfurt.

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 December 2013, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE, and Ruler of Dubai, enacted the amendment of several DIFC laws and regulations through the DIFC Laws Amendment Law, DIFC Law No. 1 of 2013 ("DIFC Laws Amendment Law") in order to comply with the requirements set out by the OECD Global Forum on Transparency and the Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes ("OECD Global Forum"), and aligning the Arbitration Law, DIFC Law No.1 of 2008 ("Arbitration Law") to the New York Convention.

The enactment facilitates amendments to the Companies Law of 2009, General Partnership Law of 2004, Limited Partnership Law of 2006, Limited Liability Partnership Law of 2004, Arbitration Law of 2008, and Non-Incorporated Organisations Law of 2012.

Physical Infrastructure Development

DIFC's core focus for 2013, in terms of developing the Centre's physical infrastructure, was to streamline the functions of DIFC Properties and to manage the company's real estate portfolio more effectively by making use of new spaces around the Centre and adding new services for clients. In addition, DIFC rolled out its revised Master Plan in October 2013, which generated great interest within the region's investor and developer community.

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 2013, occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District (Gate Building, Gate Precinct and Gate Village) reached record highs of 99% of leasable space (total commercial office space: 1.3 million square feet), and 99% occupancy rates of DIFC-owned retail space (total retail space: 230,000 square feet).

The occupancy within third party owned office space managed by DIFC under the Property Lease Management Agreement (PLMA) stands at 97% (total PLMA area: 513,000 square feet). The net commercial office space leased in 2013 was approximately 245,000 square feet.

To meet the growing demand in DIFC, around 877,553 square feet of GFA (Gross Floor Area) of space was made available in the Centre, 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. With the combined space available in these buildings, DIFC can accommodate an additional workforce of 15,000.

DIFC Authority Operating Review 2013 - Arabic


DIFC Authority Operating Review 2013 - English


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