Dubai International Financial Centre reports impressive growth in first half of 2015
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), an established global financial services hub connecting businesses and financial institutions with emerging markets across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA), saw impressive growth in the first half of 2015 (H1 2015).
The number of active companies registered at the Centre grew 8.3% while the number of people employed within DIFC jumped nearly 5% to more than 18,500.
His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of DIFC Authority, said the Centre’s encouraging performance illustrated the solid foundations of its 10-year growth strategy, announced in June, which expects DIFC’s operations to treble by 2024.
“With a growing portfolio of active registered firms and an ever expanding and vibrant workforce, we are maximizing the opportunities for investment into and trade with the emerging markets of the MEASA region.”
Operational highlights H1 2015
A total of 1,327 active registered companies now operate within Centre, compared with 1,225 firms at the end of 2014, and 1,113 in the first half of 2014, representing an increase of 8.3% and 19.2%, respectively.
140 new companies licensed during the first six months of the year (36 financial services firms, 91 non-financial services companies and 13 retailers).
The total number of people employed by companies within the Centre rose 4.8% to 18,521, from 17,680 at the end of 2014, and 11.8% compared with 16,560 in the first sixth months of 2014
Ground-breaking of 11th office building in The Gate District announced
An additional 178,376 square feet of commercial space leased
Out of the 1,327 active firms in the first half of 2015, 382 are financial services firms, up 9.1% from 350 in the first half of 2014; 750 are non-financial services firms, up 25% from 600, and 182 are retailers, up 14.5% from 159 in the first six months of last year.
Among the new companies setting up operations in H1 2015, DIFC welcomed Lloyd’s of London, the global leader in specialist insurance and reinsurance, in March.
Joining in April, Bae, Kim & Lee (BKL), DIFC’s first Korean law firm, will advise the growing community of Korean companies investing in the MENA region.
BankMed, one of Lebanon’s fastest growing banks, officially launched its operations in March. The first MENA-based financial institution to receive a Category-1 licensing, BankMed will leverage its experience in corporate banking and risk management to offer a wide range of financial solutions, from credit to trade finance and treasury service, within the UAE and GCC region.
Middle East focus
DIFC’s first-half results data is further evidence of the Centre’s appeal as a global financial hub, with the majority of registered companies originating from the Middle East (53%), followed by Europe (19%), North America (8%) and Asia (6%), with the rest of the world accounting for 14%.
By comparison, in the first six months of 2014, Europe represented 35% of registered companies, while the Middle East, North America and Asia represented 30%, 14% and 12%, respectively.
Banks and capital market firms now account for 42% of active financial firms operating at DIFC (24% and 18%, respectively), while wealth management companies represent 41% and insurance firms 16%.
The latest expansion of the DIFC site master-plan, part of the Centre’s 2024 growth strategy, saw the Gate Village Building 11 break ground in July. Representing a AED205 million investment, the building will span a total area of 200,000 square feet, including 160,000 sq. ft. of office space and nearly 40,000 sq. ft. for retail and F&B outlets. The project is set for completion in the second quarter of 2017.
In line with Dubai’s ‘Smart City’ initiative, DIFC launched a dedicated portal offering registered entities a range of administrative services, including employee services, registration and licensing, certification and online payments to help. Efforts are also underway to enhance the IT systems and capabilities to further step-up the overall client experience to further streamline the operations of its clients and tenants.
DIFC consolidated its trade and investment relationships around the world in the first half of the year, with senior representatives meeting the Prime Minister of Kazakhstan, Karim Massimov, India’s Minister of State for Finance, Jayant Sinha, and Alan Yarrow, Lord Mayor of the City of London.
The Centre also signed an MoU in May with the National Bank of Kazakhstan to promote joint cooperation in the development of Kazakhstan’s own financial centre in the capital city of Astana, as well as opportunities for MENA-based businesses to access Kazakhstan’s domestic market.
Senior delegations also attended high-level industry gatherings including The Institute of International Finance Spring Meetings in Doha, CityWeek in London, Dubai Week in China, the Fund Forum in Monaco, as well as industry events Singapore and Saudi Arabia.
“The forward momentum established in early 2015 will drive further expansion of our operations throughout the rest of the year and consolidate DIFC’s position as the leading financial hub of the MEASA region,” added Essa Kazim.
Aspiring to rank among the world’s top 5 financial hubs, DIFC announced its 10-year growth strategy in June aimed at deepening its core client synergies and further expanding the Centre’s regulatory and physical infrastructure.
In addition to connecting the developed markets of the West with the emerging economies of the East, the Centre will realize further operational expansion by stimulating trade and investment in the South-South corridor.
DIFC aims to grow the financial sector’s share of the UAE economy to 18% of GDP by 2024, compared with 12% in 2013.