DIFC posts 23% rise in companies joining financial centre in first half of 2023

More than 660 signed up in the first six months of the year, led by FinTech and innovation-related businesses

The growth in the number of registered companies at the DIFC led to the creation of a record 3,057 jobs in first half of 2023. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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A total of 661 companies joined the Dubai International Financial Centre in the first half of 2023, a 23 per cent increase from the same period last year, underscoring the emirate’s global reputation.

The total number of registered companies rose to 4,949 during the first six months of the year, from 4,031 in the same period last year, the DIFC said on Tuesday.

The growth in the number of registered companies led to the creation of a record 3,057 jobs, increasing the total workforce in DIFC by 20 per cent year-on-year to 39,140, it said.

“DIFC’s exceptional performance in the first half of the year once again demonstrates the strength of the ecosystem it offers for investment, innovation and enterprise to flourish,” said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and president of the DIFC.

“As the emirate enters a new phase of growth with the implementation of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, DIFC will be a vital contributor to the emirate’s efforts to open new horizons of sustainable development and unlock the potential of advanced financial technologies.”

Launched in January, D33 aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy, with a target of Dh32 trillion by 2033, and establishing the emirate among the world's top three centres.

The strategy aims to boost the emirate’s competitiveness and future-readiness.

The DIFC recorded an increase in FinTech and innovation companies from 599 to 811 in the first half of 2023, up 35 per cent year-on-year, it said.

The centre is now home to 1,443 financial and innovation related companies, a 15 per cent year-on-year growth.

Growth in the number of companies seeking to set up in the DIFC has also boosted demand for office space in the financial district.

The DIFC leased more than 233,000 square feet of owned and managed commercial space, underscoring high demand for commercial space in the first six months of the year, it said. Occupancy rates stood at 99 per cent.

“The unprecedented growth during the first six months of 2023 continues to strengthen Dubai’s position as a global leader for finance and innovation,” Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC, said.

“This is testament to our world-class laws, regulation and infrastructure which enables DIFC to continue attracting a host of established companies, growth stage firms, and the region’s deepest pool of financial talent.”

DIFC is the base for 632 financially regulated firms, surpassing the 600-mark for the first time during the first half of the year, the statement said.

The influx of hedge funds continued during the first six months of 2023, raising DIFC’s reputation as a focus for alternative investments, it said.

Among the firms joining DIFC in 2023 were Asia Research and Capital Management Ltd, Edmond de Rothschild, EnTrust Global, Hudson Bay Capital, King Street Capital, Nomura Singapore, St James’s Place and Verition Fund Management.

In line with DIFC’s Strategy 2030 to shape the future of finance and innovation, the centre recently announced the Dubai AI and Web3 Campus aimed at creating the largest cluster of artificial intelligence (AI) and tech companies in the region.

The campus is set to attract more than $300 million in funds, house more than 500 global AI and Web3 start-ups and create more than 3,000 jobs by 2028.

The DIFC Launchpad, which aims to promote the growth of innovative start-ups and scale-ups, expects to support the launch of more than 200 ventures in Dubai, create more than 8,000 jobs and attract more than Dh2 billion in venture capital.

Dubai also launched the DIFC Family Wealth Centre in March, billing it as “the world’s first dedicated centre for family wealth.

The initiative is in line with Dubai government's commitment to supporting family businesses, which continue to play a major role in accelerating the growth of Dubai’s economy.

The emirate, the commercial and business centre of the Middle East, continues to look closely at sustainable financing as the UAE prepares to host the Cop28 climate summit in November.

DIFC also established a Path to Cop28 programme for the global finance community.

“DIFC’s initiatives will continue to pave the way for the growth of sustainable finance in the region in the run up to Cop28 and beyond,” it said.

Updated: August 01, 2023, 10:03 AM