DIFC given broader remit under new law

Companies allowed to market and supply products onshore so long as most of their business is conducted within the free zone

A new law has given the DIFC a broader remit. Sarah Dea / The National
A new law has given the DIFC a broader remit. Sarah Dea / The National

Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, passed a new law that broadens the scope of responsibilities for Dubai International Financial Centre, the emirate's financial free zone.

The new law replaces regulations put in place when the DIFC was established in 2004 and provides greater clarity on the role of its president, governor, the centre itself and the bodies within it, according to a Dubai government media office statement.

"It also ensures the centre's operational, financial and administrative independence that is crucial for the continued growth and success of the centre," the statement said.

The DIFC is ranked as the biggest finance hub in the Middle East and Africa and the 19th biggest globally, according to the Global Financial Centres Index ranking published in March.

It registered a 20 per cent increase in the number of companies last year, bringing the total number of businesses operating in the centre to 2,919 – 915 of which are financial entities. New members joining last year included Spain's Caixabank, insurer AfricaRe and India's Tata Asset Management.

Under its broader remit, the DIFC has an objective of advancing sustainable economic growth for Dubai by increasing the gross domestic product contribution of the financial sector, promoting inward investment and attracting regional and international entities into the centre to operate "their principal place of business".

The law also "provides clarity on what DIFC establishments may do outside their physical premises in the centre", confirming they are able to supply products and services outside the free zone as long as they are primarily provided from within it. It also allows them to market and promote their activities outside the DIFC.

Under the law, the DIFC's president will be allowed to exempt a number of federal and local government authorities, companies and other entities from adhering to DIFC laws "that were never intended to apply to them", the statement added.

The law will split the role of the centre's Dispute Resolution Authority, with a new Arbitration Institute that will operate separately from the DIFC Courts. This will allow both bodies to pursue separate mandates, the statement said.

Published: May 6, 2021 04:27 PM


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