Companies are registering to trade at the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre at a much faster rate than anticipated, with more than 1,270 signing up in the first half of this year alone, more than the total for the whole of 2011.
The free zone operator revealed the registration data yesterday as part of a half-yearly trading update at a conference on the 50th floor of its Almas Tower diamond trading centre in Jumeirah Lakes Towers.
Some 260 new companies registered with the free zone in April alone, breaking the previous record of 200.
There are now 6,890 companies registered at the DMCC, a 30 per cent increase on the same period last year.
"We are closing in on 7,000 much faster than even we expected, and we expected to do it fast," said Ahmed bin Sulayem, the DMCC executive chairman. "The first half of the year exceeded our expectations."
In 2011 Mr bin Sulayem pledged to register more than 7,200 companies by the end of this year, a target he is now confident of hitting. "At this rate we will be there in a month, maybe two," he added.
The trading update also revealed that more than 65,000 people now live and work in the free zone, which consists of 65 completed towers.
"The first six months of 2013 further demonstrate DMCC's strength and commitment to establishing Dubai as the global hub for commodities trade and enterprise.
"With an average of 200 new companies joining DMCC every single month, 95 per cent of which are new to Dubai, DMCC will be the largest free zone in the UAE before the year-end," Mr bin Sulayem said.
The executive chairman also revealed that the UAE's diamond trade had grown during the first half of the year. Volumes of rough diamonds traded in the DMCC increased by 10 per cent to 66 million carats, and the value increased by 5 per cent compared with the same period last year to US$6.2 billion.
A total of 32.4 million carats were imported in the first half of the year at a value of $2.5bn, respectively a 9 per cent and 7 per cent increase over the same period last year.
Exports by volume grew 12 per cent to 34 million carats and in value by 3 per cent to $3.7bn, compared with last year's first half.
The Dubai Gold and Commodity Exchange, meanwhile, enjoyed strong growth with first half volumes of 7.7 million contracts, an increase of 101 per cent over the previous year and an underlying value of $269bn.
Average daily volume in the first half of the year came in at 61,731 contracts, a 107 per cent increase on last year's first half.
The free zone operator also gave an update on its plans to expand with a 107,000 square metre business park that will house what the DMCC hopes will be the world's tallest commercial tower.
The DMCC has been approached by at least 13 financial institutions and three architectural firms to design the tower and business park. All of those offers have so far been rejected, however.
Mr bin Sulayem said the majority of the buildings in the office park would be "glass box construction" of between nine and twelve storeys. The tower, which must be at least 660 metres tall to stand a chance of competing with other record-breaking office-only towers under construction, will have a steel frame.
The company has also appointed Core, a commercial property advisory company based in the UAE, to act as broker for the proposed new project.
Malcolm Wall, the DMCC chief executive, said he had already been inundated with inquiries about the proposed tower.
"We have had a lot of interest from international firms who would be interested in being tenants in the world's tallest commercial tower," he said. "On top of that, I was approached by a current tenant in the lift only this morning asking for space. This type of project generates a lot of interest."