DIFC sees 16% rise in business numbers in first half of 2016

Added 2nd September 2016

The Dubai International Financial Centre, an independently regulated free zone in the UAE, has seen strong growth in business tenants and the size of its workforce for the first six months of 2016.

DIFC sees 16% rise in business numbers in first half of 2016

There were 1,539 active firms in the DIFC as of 30 June 2016, up 16% on the same date in 2015.

The centre now has a record 425 financial services firms, up 11% on the year ago figure; there has been a 22% rise in the number of non-financial firms to 914 over the same period; and the centre had 192 retailers, up 2% on this time last year.

Big names

One of the newly registered firms is HSBC, which moved its Middle East headquarters and $40bn (£30.3bn, €35.8bn) of assets to the centre. Regional banks Ahli United Bank and the Bank of Palestine, which set up its first overseas operation, also moved in.

In other key sectors, the first Indian reinsurance firm, HDFC International Life and Re Company, arrived along with Kuwaiti asset management firm, Kamco Investment, which established its first international office in the DIFC.

In all, around 33% of firms in the DIFC come from the Middle East region, 18% from the EU, 15% from the UK, 12% from the US, 12% from Asia and a further 10% from elsewhere in the world.

The number of people working in the DIFC has reached 21,076, an increase of 14% or over 2,500 new professionals, from 30 June 2015.

2024 target

DIFC governor Essa Kazim, said the latest results represent a major milestone in delivering on the centre’s forward-looking 2024 strategy.

“We continue to invest in building our world-class ecosystem, and are committed to creating an environment that enables our clients to take advantage of new opportunities that arise in the region.”

The DIFC’s 2024 growth strategy calls on the centre to triple in size so that the number of active domiciled financial firms reaches 1,000 by 2024 in comparison to 362 in 2014 when the strategy was first outlined.

It also calls for the combined workforce of DIFC-registered companies to grow to 50,000 by the end of 2024, and overall assets under management of fund managers and financial institutions to reach $250bn.

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Richard Hubbard

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Richard Hubbard is the group editor at Last Word. He is responsible for the editorial content of International Adviser, Portfolio Adviser, Expert Investor and Fund Selector Asia. Richard previously worked for Thomson Reuters and has covered the financial services industry and investment themes from its offices in London, Singapore, Hong Kong and New York. Richard started his career at the Australian Financial Review in Sydney.

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