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Another Solid Year For The DIFC

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Despite the impact of the European debt crisis, the global economic downturn and political turmoil in certain parts of the region, the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) continues to strengthen its position as the leading international financial centre in the region.

Active companies registered in the DIFC grew by 7% in 2011 to reach 848 by December 31 last year, with the free zone currently home to 21 of the world’s top 30 banks, six of the world’s 10 largest insurers, six of the top 10 law firms and eight of the top 20 money managers.

The DIFC issued 135 new commercial licences in 2011, 71 of which were registered in the second half of the year, representing a 19% annual increase in registrations. The Centre registered 41 new regulated companies last year including BNP Paribas Wealth Management, Bank Vontobel Middle East Ltd., Paladin Capital Group, Jefferies International Limited and Attijariwafa Bank; 70 new non-regulated companies including Egon Zehnder International LLC; and 24 new retailers including Gaucho, Debauve & Gallais Chocolates and U energy boutique health club.

The bulk of DIFC companies come from Europe and the Middle East (approximately 37% and 26% respectively), although it is now attracting strong interest from Asian firms, which make up 11% of the total. Approximately 17% of DIFC companies are North American.

Last year, Dubai was ranked as one of the top 10 international financial centres (8th) by The Banker (FT Business) out of 53 international Financial Centres, based on the level of international business and the value offered to international institutions seeking to expand their international operations, ahead of centres like Zurich, Tokyo, Geneva, Luxembourg, Dublin and Chicago. Dubai was also named as the 3rd best location in the world for inward FDI in financial services.

One of Dubai's many free zones, the DIFC has a highly attractive tax and regulatory regime, offering firms 0% income tax guaranteed for 50 years, 100% foreign ownership, no exchange controls and a legal system based on English common law.

Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: "DIFC's achievements of recent years underscore our emergence as a global hub of finance and business. Our world-class infrastructure and common-law jurisdiction provide a stable platform for global and regional firms to access the regions emerging markets and beyond."

He added: “Although the past two years were exceptionally challenging from a global perspective, the community in DIFC was resilient and this was noticed in the net positive growth in the number of clients that tapped into the DIFC during this period. We have the potential to double in size in the next five years, contributing to economic growth within UAE and the region as a whole."