HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum officially launches the DIFC

Dubai witnessed a spectacular gala event last night that left an audience of over 1,000 VVIPs spellbound.

In the shadow of the Gate building, an invited audience, many of whom had flown in from around the world, was witness to a spectacle that, even by Dubai’s high standards, was unique in its scope, scale and ambition.

The celebration was to mark the official launch of the Dubai International Financial Centre by His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, UAE Defence Minister, and President of the DIFC.The financial hub, which has turned Dubai into the financial heart of the Middle East, was also celebrating a year of operations, achievements and success.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, along with a number of VVIPs from the local, regional and international arena, were present at the show.

His Highness General Sheikh Mohammed commented:

“Most people talk – we do things. They plan – we achieve. They hesitate – we move ahead.

“We are a living proof that when human beings have the courage and commitment to transform a dream into reality – there is nothing that can stop them.

“Dubai is a living example of that.

“We have people from all over the world who are part of a success story that lives in all sectors of our economy and all segments of our society. Now we have added yet another area of specialisation.

“Dubai and the UAE have moved into the more sophisticated world of high finance. And, I am pleased to learn that in only one year of operation, the Dubai International Financial Centre has surpassed all expectations.

“But, this is just the beginning. We expect to hear many success stories from the DIFC.”

Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Director General of DIFC Authority said at the beginning of the celebrations:

“Today we are celebrating the official launch of the DIFC and a Year of Success – a success we never dreamed of achieving in so short a time. We had hoped to attract 15 companies to the DIFC in the first year. We have more than 100 with some of the best-known names.

“The financial and capital markets world - a year ago - was divided into two separate regions. The East, where we have Tokyo, Hong Kong and Singapore. and The West, which begins from Frankfurt and moves through Paris and London across the Atlantic to New York in the United States. There was a financial wilderness stretching from Singapore to Frankfurt – an area where almost two-thirds of mankind lives.

“But in the midst of all this sprang an opportunity – an opportunity based on a Vision, Leadership and the Strategic Location of the United Arab Emirates along the crossroads of the East and the West.

With the Dubai International Financial Centre, the circle is complete. We have created a “new time zone” for the world’s financial and capital markets.”

The evening began with a dazzling display of fireworks and lasers lighting up the Gate and the Dubai skyline. Bearing the theme “Notes to Success”, the evening culminated in a giant revolving stage that held the 70-piece Czech National Symphony Orchestra. Under the baton of Marcello Rota, who has conducted some of the world’s best symphony orchestra and soloists, world-renowned tenor Andrea Bocelli, performed arias by Puccini, Bizet and others, before duetting with soprano, Patrizia Orciani.

Bocelli, who is acknowledged as one of opera's most important voices, has been described as, “restoring the dignity of a genre that seemed to belong only to the past”, and is the acknowledged successor to Caruso, Carreras and Pavarotti.

Accompanying the maestro was Norman Perryman, an artist who is able to transform music into works of art. Inspired by the orchestra, Perryman painted onto a special surface which was projected live on to giant screens on either sides of the stage. The effect was an audio-visual extravaganza that merged visual art and music.

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