DIFC attracted record number of companies in 2023

New registrations rose 34 per cent to 1,451

DIFC Gate building. Courtesy Dubai International Financial Centre Authority
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Dubai International Financial Centre attracted a record number of companies in 2023, leading to a 45 per cent annual jump in its net profit for the year.

Total profit for the 12 months to the end of December climbed to $203 million, the financial centre said on Thursday.

Revenue for the period grew 23 per cent year-on-year to $352 million, with the total number of new company registrations surging 34 per cent to reach 1,451.

There are currently 5,523 active companies operating at DIFC, up 26 per cent annually, employing more than 41,500 people.

The number of financial companies in the centre during the year grew 22 per cent to reach 1,674, while non-financial companies rose 28 per cent to 3,849.

DIFC also that it is ahead of schedule to achieve its target of doubling its gross domestic product contribution by 2030.

“We aim to achieve the objectives outlined in Dubai's Economic Agenda (D33), positioning Dubai among the top four global financial centres,” Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Deputy Prime Minister for Finance and Economic Affairs, said on social media platform X.

“Our aspirations are just beginning. In the coming years, there will be plans for expansion and development of policies and legislation to align with future economies.”

Launched in January, D33 aims to double the size of Dubai’s economy, with a target of reaching Dh32 trillion by 2033.

D33 also aims to make Dubai a global digital economy leader, the fastest growing and most attractive global business centre, a centre for sustainability and economic diversification, and an incubator and enabler of talented citizens.

Last year, 316 FinTech companies established a presence at DIFC, taking their total to 902. The centre also has 350 wealth and asset management firms.

While 36 per cent of the new companies that set up a base in DIFC came from developed economies, including Europe, the UK and the US, 52 per cent came from emerging markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, and those remaining are from other economies, according to officials.

“DIFC has been serving as a growth engine for the economy, but also it has been a growth platform for thousands of companies that had taken the DIFC as their address to grow, expand and tap around roughly $12 trillion of GDP [gross domestic product] in the region, a market that consists of the subcontinent, Middle East and Africa with a population of about three billion people,” Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC, told a media briefing.

DIFC expects to continue to attract companies this year despite concerns about the slowdown of the global economy, geopolitical tensions and increased competition from Saudi Arabia. The kingdom, as part of its economic diversification plan, is also seeking to attract more international companies to set up their operations in Riyadh.

The number of companies that have set up their operations at DIFC so far this year has “exceeded the targets” for the same period last year, Mr Kazim said.

The region will continue to attract more companies from all over the world.

“If you look at Europe, US … there are challenges there, they are still fighting inflation, monetary policy has been restrictive. This region, with [the] oil price being still around $80 [per barrel], which is roughly about the break-even level of the budgets of the governments in the region … it is promising.”

Updated: February 15, 2024, 12:03 PM