Under the patronage of HH Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum DIFC hosts spectacular second annual celebration



  • More than 2,500 VVIP’s attend, including leading international, regional and local financial decision-makers
  • Entertainment provided by opera stars Jose Carreras, Hiba Al Kawas and City of London Sinfonia

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) hosted its second annual celebration tonight (Thursday, November 30) under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC.

More than 2,500 VVIP’s attended the spectacular event, including a veritable who’s who of global and regional decision-makers from the financial industry. For those unable to attend, the festivities were broadcast live on Sama Dubai TV. Highlights of the evening included performances by international opera stars Jose Carreras and Hiba Al Kawas, and a laser and fireworks show accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia.

The event, held at the famous “Gate” of the DIFC, was designed to reflect the way in which the DIFC has come to symbolise the meeting of East and West, which was theme of the evening. At the same time, this extraordinary cultural event was also a public celebration of the DIFC’s second year of ongoing operations, achievements and success.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum said: “Those who question whether a dream can become reality need look no further than the monument that lies before them, which symbolizes the DIFC and the success it has achieved since it was launched two years ago. Those who seek even greater evidence of how dreams can become reality need only look to Dubai and the UAE, as we have realised the dream, and now look ahead to an even brighter future.

“Under the leadership and guidance of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, our mission is not only to achieve increased prosperity for the people of the UAE but for the people of the entire region. “

“The achievements of the DIFC reflect the larger success achieved by the country as a whole – across all sectors of the economy – over the last three and a half decades. As we approach the celebration of UAE National Day, this Saturday, we seize the moment to begin afresh, to renew our promise of growth, prosperity and development. “

“Together, we must strive towards the goal of shared prosperity. We must continue to dream and be inspired by our successes”.

His Excellency Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC, said in his address the start of the evening’s activities: “His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum continues to provide visionary leadership. The force of this vision is borne out by the astonishing achievements that have taken place here under his leadership – including the unprecedented economic growth of Dubai, the UAE and the Middle East. We are all profoundly inspired by his shared wisdom and personal commitment to the common good.

“The second annual celebration of the DIFC is an important occasion for both the centre and the region as a whole. In the last 12 months our financial district has grown rapidly, cementing its reputation as the region’s global financial hub, which both complements the great financial centres that we see in other parts of the world. There is no doubting our strength in the MENA region, but it is our growing recognition internationally that is of particular pride.”

He continued: “Dubai has become the regional gateway for the flow of capital and investment, creating sustained and stable economic growth for the benefit of the UAE and the wider region. We can proudly say that we are building a strong legacy for future generations.

“We see the DIFC as a driver for the good of our region, not only in terms of big business and high finance, but also in terms of our society, our communities and individuals of all ages.”

Following the Governor’s remarks, a series of remarkable musical performances were provided by leading lights from both the Arab world and the West. First, the City of London Sinfonia (CLS) entertained the vast audience with a fusion of music and visual art that highlighted the achievements of the DIFC this year. Conducted by Brad Cohen, who is renowned for his involvement in both classical and new music, the CLS provided a stunning musical introduction to the evening.

Pioneering soprano Hiba Al Kawas, one of the Arab world’s most famous classical musicians, then performed the first-ever operatic performance of “Anta Alhawa,” an original poem written by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed. This was followed by a series of classical and contemporary arias by Jose Carreras, one of the world’s greatest and best-known tenors.

Finally, in a fitting tribute to the DIFC and the meeting of East and West, Carreras and Al Kawas performed, for the first time in musical history, a duet from “The Phantom of the Opera” in Italian and Arabic.

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