The DIFC will expand to triple its size. Jeff Topping / The National
The DIFC will expand to triple its size. Jeff Topping / The National

'DIFC 2.0' to triple Dubai business hub's area and attract FinTech investors

Plans to expand Dubai's financial center to three times its current footprint is set to offer investors an international base for FinTech services while the addition of retail and leisure spaces will boost its attractiveness as a central business district, analysts say.

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) will expand to include more offices, residences, retail and leisure offerings to create 'DIFC 2.0', a plan approved by Dubai's ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid on Monday. The expansion should attract more investments and solidify the DIFC's position as the region's top finance center, analysts say.

"“DIFC’s expansion plans will strengthen the emirate’s position as the region’s central economic and commercial hub and offer an international platform for FinTech and business innovation, augmenting the DIFC’s status as a leading global financial centre," Ehsan Khoman, head of Mena research and strategy at MUFG, said.

The DIFC, the government-owned free zone, is the biggest finance hub in the Middle East and hosts international banks, investment firms, insurance companies and financial service consultancies. Dubai jumped four positions to rank 15th in the Global Financial Centres Index, a survey of the world's most attractive financial centres. New York overtook London as the world's most attractive financial hub after the Brexit decision.


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Once finalised, the revamped district will boast 6.4 million square feet of office space, 2.6 million square feet of creative space, 1.5 million square feet of residences, 1.3 million square feet of retail space and 700,000 square feet devoted to leisure and entertainment.

"Like any new development, especially one of this scale, the key to success and integration into the existing market will be in the phasing," Simon Townsend, senior director at real estate advisory CBRE, said. "The inclusion of key additional sectors such as residential and leisure will add to the diverse offering and help cement the DIFC’s position as the region’s key financial district.”

Demand for prime office space will continue from global corporate clients such as those in DIFC or the Dubai World Trade Centre while the secondary and sub-prime office market will continue to face "challenging" conditions, continuing a pattern of a "two-tier" commercial property market, Mr Townsend said.

While the additional units in the DIFC pipeline will increase the supply in the market, it will allow the emirate to better serve the financial and tertiary services industry, Murray Strang, head of Dubai for Savills, said.

"It proves that DIFC is successful and that Dubai has a long-term view on being a great place to do business," Mr Strang said. "It is a positive commitment to improving and growing the prime CBD in Dubai and will ensure the emirate is geared up to serve blue chip for the long term."

Expansion of the DIFC follows the UAE's broader plan to attract more foreign investment, create jobs and increase non-oil revenues.


Mar 10: Norwich(A)

Mar 13: Newcastle(H)

Mar 16: Lille(A)

Mar 19: Middlesbrough(A)

Apr 2: Brentford(H)


Friday Stuttgart v Cologne (Kick-off 10.30pm UAE)

Saturday RB Leipzig v Hertha Berlin (5.30pm)

Mainz v Borussia Monchengladbach (5.30pm)

Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt (5.30pm)

Union Berlin v SC Freiburg (5.30pm)

Borussia Dortmund v Schalke (5.30pm)

Sunday Wolfsburg v Arminia (6.30pm)

Werder Bremen v Hoffenheim (9pm)

Bayer Leverkusen v Augsburg (11.30pm)


Company name: Revibe
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Based: UAE
Industry: Refurbished electronics
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1 India 71 per cent

2 New Zealand 70 per cent

3 Australia 69.2 per cent

4 England 64.1 per cent

5 Pakistan 43.3 per cent

6 West Indies 33.3 per cent

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9 Bangladesh 0

Anxiety and work stress major factors

Anxiety, work stress and social isolation are all factors in the recogised rise in mental health problems.

A study UAE Ministry of Health researchers published in the summer also cited struggles with weight and illnesses as major contributors.

Its authors analysed a dozen separate UAE studies between 2007 and 2017. Prevalence was often higher in university students, women and in people on low incomes.

One showed 28 per cent of female students at a Dubai university reported symptoms linked to depression. Another in Al Ain found 22.2 per cent of students had depressive symptoms - five times the global average.

It said the country has made strides to address mental health problems but said: “Our review highlights the overall prevalence of depressive symptoms and depression, which may long have been overlooked."

Prof Samir Al Adawi, of the department of behavioural medicine at Sultan Qaboos University in Oman, who was not involved in the study but is a recognised expert in the Gulf, said how mental health is discussed varies significantly between cultures and nationalities.

“The problem we have in the Gulf is the cross-cultural differences and how people articulate emotional distress," said Prof Al Adawi. 

“Someone will say that I have physical complaints rather than emotional complaints. This is the major problem with any discussion around depression."

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A semen analysis of the father showed abnormal sperm so the couple required IVF.

Out of 21 eggs collected, six were unused leaving 15 suitable for IVF.

A specific procedure was used, called intracytoplasmic sperm injection where a single sperm cell is inserted into the egg.

On day three of the process, 14 embryos were biopsied for gender selection.

The next day, a pre-implantation genetic report revealed four normal male embryos, three female and seven abnormal samples.

Day five of the treatment saw two male embryos transferred to the patient.

The woman recorded a positive pregnancy test two weeks later. 


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Favourite holiday destination - Cuba 

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Role model - My Grandfather 

Dream interviewee - Che Guevara


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Founders: Eslam Hussein and Pulkit Ganjoo

Based: Dubai

Sector: Transport

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Investment: $1,275,000

Investors: Class 5 Global, Equitrust, Gulf Islamic Investments, Kairos K50 and William Zeqiri


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Starring: Akshay Kumar, Radhika Madan, Paresh Rawal

Rating: 2/5

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Saturday, November 24

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Scotland 14-9 Argentina
England 37-18 Australia

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Director: Janeen Damian

Stars: Lindsay Lohan, Chord Overstreet, Jack Wagner, Aliana Lohan

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