Essa Kazim, UAE, Dubai based DIFC governor and board chairman suggested that amidst all the economic slowdown mode, DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) is back ‘on track’ and is surging ahead with the DIFC 2.0 further expansion plans.
According to Mr. Kazim, the chairman of the DIFC Authority Board of Directors and governor of DIFC has stated that in 2019, The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) announced record growth with a surge of 14 percent in the overall number of firms in the centre to be at 2,437. He also added that the DIFC is currently in-house to 737 active financial firms-a rapid rise of almost 18 percent than in 2018 and a 64 percent hike as compared to what was five years ago.
The iconic centre is currently the base for 17 of the global top 20 banks, eight of which is in the top 10 leading worldwide law firms, three amongst top five insurance backed firms and six amongst top ten asset managers being included in the client list.
According to a data estimate, DIFC has recently announced a record growth as it witnessed during the closure of 2019, wherein it has largely contributed for the creation of 2,034 brand new employment opportunities and have accumulated a stunning record-breaking 493 latest businesses with a total workforce accounting to 25,600 – a rise of 9 percent from 2018 and also included in excess of 140 nationalities.
In 2019, the prominent notable registrations that happened included global payments firm WorldFirst, Malaysia’s Maybank Islamic Berhad, Mauritius Commercial Bank and the US financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald.
Mr. Kazim also additionally noted that “the following year was been another eventful year for DIFC as they were very elated for producing the record result by having a great achievement in the form of number of milestones including the overall surge in firms registered, record rise of number of employees at the centre and also overall assets.”
He also pointed out that “the pivotal element that has powered the Centre’s overall success is based upon their core focus part of sector diversification, investment in innovation and their unwavering commitment for attracting as well as molding and churning out the best global and native talent. By undergoing a surge in a number of brand-new partnerships and bolstering the existing agreements globally and territorial wise has supported the Centre in achieving substantial growth.”
During the previous year 2019, the net banking assets that were registered in the DIFC centre stood at US$178 billion (up by 13 percent from 2018). An additional $99 billion of lending was also arranged by DIFC firms. The DIFC Centre’s overall WAM (Wealth and Asset Management) business was worth $424 billion, of which $99 billion was invested by DIFC portfolio managers. In the insurance sector, the Gross Written Premiums netted $2 billion in 2019, representing a growth of 17.4 percent versus 2018.
Right on track for the Expansion Path: –
Mr. Kazim also stated that the expansion plans for ‘DIFC 2.0’ remain firmly on track and he announced the results by Speaking with the reporters at a press conference. H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC also stated briefly that “the overall phenomenal growth reflects the Centre’s significant direct contribution to Dubai’s economy, in line with the magnificent vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, for establishing the emirate as a major global centre for the new economy. In the expansion pursuit by UAE Prime Minister and Dubai Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum during January 2019, the strategic call for 13 million square feet of space to be added to the centre.”
With the finalization of this plan, the changing landscape or the latest district will be comprised of a vast 6.4m square feet of office space, 2.6m square feet of creative space, 1.5m square feet of residences, 1.3m square feet of retail space and 700,000 square feet devoted for the leisure and entertainment arena.
He further elaborated that the DIFC centre will continue to implement the vision of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum for reinforcing its status as the hub for the world’s largest financial institutions by producing closer partnerships with the global financial giants. They will also further work to bolster their technological infrastructure for supporting the DIFC-based companies in discovering the best and latest growth opportunities thereby creating greater value. They would also gradually seek to consolidate the leadership in the global financial landscape through strategic investments in innovation and technology.”
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Director of DIFC Authority also stated that “the propelled growth amongst the younger tech firms setting up in DIFC is a part of the validation of their strategy to support in the start-ups to boost the expansion plans DIFC 2.0 by providing access to capital, talent and mature partners with established networks. They are further in contention to build up a reliable tech ecosystem that will enable tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to flourish.”
During the previous year 2019, the DIFC FinTech Hive received a net 425 applications from start-ups operating in the RegTech, Islamic FinTech, InsurTech, and other broader FinTech sectors. This was a staggering 42 percent increase year-on-year and also quite a three-fold surge from its inaugural cycle in 2017.
With the vision of making Dubai Fintech hub of the world, till the latest data estimates DIFC has hugely invested in FinTech organizations including payments, Robo Advisory, blockchain, and KYC platforms with support from Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage $10 million of its dedicated $100 million FinTech Fund.