DIFC reports 11% rise in companies joining financial centre in first half of 2022

Strong performance reaffirms its position as a leading global centre for financial institutions, FinTechs and innovation companies

DIFC District. Courtesy Dubai International Financial Centre Authority
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A total of 537 companies joined the Dubai International Financial Centre in the first half of this year, an 11 per cent increase from the same period last year, reaffirming the emirate’s status as a global financial centre.

The number of registered companies, meanwhile, grew to 4,031 during the six-month period, from 3,297 in the same period last year, the Dubai Media Office said on Wednesday.

The total number of companies operating in the DIFC grew by 22 per cent on an annual basis.

“DIFC’s first-half performance is testament to Dubai’s ability to accelerate knowledge and innovation-driven growth, backed by its strong and stable economy,” said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, and president of the DIFC.

Its strong performance also reaffirms Dubai's position as a leading global centre for financial institutions, FinTechs and innovation firms, in line with DIFC’s Strategy 2030.

“DIFC has created a strong platform for financial companies across the spectrum including global majors, regional players and promising entrepreneurial ventures to innovate, scale their business and add value to the economy,” Sheikh Maktoum said.

He said the centre would continue to build “productive and long-lasting partnerships” with financial companies worldwide “by providing them with the infrastructure and support needed to enhance their stability, competitiveness and growth potential”.

Established in 2004, the DIFC is the largest financial centre in the Middle East and Africa and the 19th biggest worldwide, according to the Global Financial Centres Index ranking published last year.

It had unveiled targets to increase the number of financial companies operating within the centre to 1,000 while employing 50,000 people by 2024 — a goal it achieved in the first half of 2021, three years before schedule.

DIFC recorded 996 new company registrations in 2021, the most it has yet seen in a year and more than triple the average number across the last decade.

Among its 4,031 entities, the DIFC is currently home to 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, 25 of the world’s top 30 global systemically important lenders, five of the top 10 insurance companies, five of the top 10 asset managers and a number of leading global law and consulting firms, the Dubai Media Office said.

To support the growth of FinTech and innovation companies in the region, the DIFC has also expanded its Innovation Hub proposition by launching a global Venture Studios hub and introducing a $100 million Venture Debt Fund.

During the first half of 2022, a UAE-India Start-Up Corridor agreement was established and a new licence for artificial intelligence and coding was created to attract more businesses to establish their presence in the DIFC.

The DIFC also established the region’s first Open Finance Lab, after an agreement with the UAE Central Bank.

The lab will work with banks, FinTechs, regulators and the industry to unlock the next wave of growth for the sector and increase consumer protection, financial inclusion, social benefits and economic opportunities.

“DIFC’s strong results reflect the trust that businesses from around the world continue to place in Dubai as a financial hub,” said DIFC Governor Essa Kazim.

“Looking ahead, the ambitious steps taken by Dubai, and specifically DIFC, to drive the future of finance, will generate a significant number of new opportunities for businesses.”

The centre also continues to develop its laws, regulations and industry thinking to enhance its position as a global financial centre.

Changes to DIFC laws and regulations during the first half of the year included amendments to its globally recognised data protection law, the emirate's media office said.

The law supports the development of technology and innovation, while ensuring that the rights of people are properly protected by the companies in the DIFC and those they engage with.

Updated: September 08, 2022, 4:24 AM