DIFC’s H1 2023 performance strengthens Dubai’s position as a global finance and innovation hub
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, witnessed exceptional growth in the first half of 2023 with 661 new entities registering during the period in the Centre, an impressive double digit growth of 23% year-on-year. DIFC’s performance reinforces its growing role in shaping the future of finance and raises Dubai’s status as a leading growth catalyst for financial institutions, FinTech firms and innovation companies in the region.
The total number of companies operating in DIFC rose from 4,031 to 4,949 at the end of June 2023, a year-on-year increase of 23%. The number of firms in DIFC’s FinTech and Innovation sectors grew 35% year-on-year from 599 to 811, consolidating its reputation as a global hub for these sectors. DIFC is now home to 1,443 financial and innovation related companies, a 15% year-on-year growth.
The growth in the number of registered companies has led to a remarkable increase in job creation. The total number of employees based in DIFC grew by 3,057 to reach 39,140, up 20% year-on-year. The increase supports the goals of DIFC’s 2030 Strategy, apart from further strengthening Dubai’s position as a pre-eminent global hub for talent.
The first six months of the year saw high demand for commercial space. DIFC leased over 233,000 sq. ft. owned and managed commercial space. Occupancy rates stood at 99%.
Dubai’s growth as a global financial hub received further recognition from prestigious international indices. The spring 2023 edition of the Global Financial Centres Index categorised the city as one of only ten financial centres in the world that is a global leader with broad and deep capabilities. Dubai is the only financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region to be included in this classification.
His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE and President of DIFC, said, “DIFC’s exceptional performance in the first half of the year once again demonstrates the strength of the ecosystem it offers for investment, innovation and enterprise to flourish in the financial industry. DIFC has not only propelled Dubai’s development into a pre-eminent global financial hub but also helped create new spirals of growth in the wider region. As the emirate enters a new phase of growth with the implementation of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, DIFC will be a vital contributor to the emirate’s efforts to open new horizons of sustainable development and unlock the potential of advanced financial technologies.”
“Guided by the leadership’s vision, Dubai continues to pursue a clear strategy to empower entrepreneurs, innovators and talent in the financial industry to create fresh cycles of economic value in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. By further enhancing its world-class infrastructure, legislative frameworks and business-enabling services, Dubai is poised to emerge as an even more influential force in shaping the world’s financial landscape,” His Highness added.
His Excellency Essa Kazim (pictured), Governor of DIFC, commented, “DIFC plays a pivotal role in driving Dubai’s economic growth in line with the Centre’s Strategy 2030 and the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33). The unprecedented growth during the first six months of 2023 continues to strengthen Dubai’s position as a global leader for finance and innovation. This is testament to our world-class laws, regulation and infrastructure which enables DIFC to continue attracting a host of established companies, growth stage firms, and the region’s deepest pool of financial talent. Dubai’s official global leader status will help DIFC differentiate our position with international finance and business communities, ensuring we can continue to advance our contribution to the economy.”
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said, “DIFC’s tremendous success in the first half of 2023 continues to illustrate how we are shaping the future of finance. Our unwavering commitment to growth has yielded outstanding results, with client attraction and expansion leading to a remarkable increase in job creation, bolstering the international workforce in DIFC. This achievement reinforces DIFC and Dubai’s prominence as a global destination for top-tier talent as we continue to deliver to our Strategy 2030.”
A global leader for finance
DIFC is home to 632 financially regulated firms. During the first half of 2023, this number surpassed 600 for the first time. The strong inflow of top firms underscores Dubai’s attractiveness as a global financial industry hub and DIFC’s world-class value proposition for industry players. The influx of hedge funds continued in H1 2023, further raising DIFC’s reputation as a new global centre for alternative investments. Notable new firms joining DIFC in 2023 include global leaders such as Asia Research and Capital Management Ltd, Edmond de Rothschild, EnTrust Global, Hudson Bay Capital, King Street Capital, Nomura Singapore, St. James’s Place and Verition Fund Management LLC.
A global leader for innovation
DIFC’s community of 811 FinTech and Innovation firms represent the largest cluster of its kind in the region. Working with the 4,949 companies across DIFC’s broader ecosystem, they are collectively using DIFC’s growth-enabling platform to drive the future of finance.
In May this year, DIFC organised the first-ever Dubai FinTech Summit under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of UAE, and President of DIFC. The global event welcomed 5,300 visitors from 92 countries and saw over 20 Memorandums of Understanding (MoU) being signed. DIFC alone inked 12 MoUs with leading global finance and technology firms.
In line with DIFC’s Strategy 2030 to shape the future of finance and innovation, the Centre recently announced the ‘Dubai AI and Web 3.0 Campus’. Aimed at creating the largest cluster of artificial intelligence (AI) and tech companies in the region, the Campus is set to attract over $300 million in collective funds, house over 500 global AI and Web 3.0 start-ups, and create over 3,000 jobs by 2028.
To support innovation and growth in the region, DIFC’s Innovation Hub introduced its venture building platform, DIFC Launchpad, to develop a strong venture building model that promotes the growth of innovative start-ups and scale-ups in the region. The DIFC Launchpad expects to support the launch of more than 200 new ventures in Dubai, create over 8,000 jobs and attract over AED2 billion in venture capital.
A global family wealth hub
DIFC is continuously innovating and advancing its ecosystem to help families manage their wealth. The new DIFC Family Arrangements Regulations 2023 were developed to help DIFC-based family offices grow and manage their wealth efficiently.
DIFC also launched the global DIFC Family Wealth Centre. The first of its kind in the world, the Centre provides best-in-class tailored services for families with a long-term vision and global ambitions. The centre supports family businesses in their journey to preserve and grow their legacies across generations, as well as geographies. The initiative aligns with Dubai Government’s commitment to supporting family businesses, which continue to play a prominent role in accelerating the growth of Dubai’s economy.
Championing a more sustainable future
Ahead of world leaders gathering in Dubai for the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) to the UNFCCC in November and December 2023, DIFC was the first entity in the world to establish a Path to COP28 programme for the global finance community.
In partnership with the Global Ethical Finance Initiative (GEFI), the programme continues to bring the global finance community together to address climate change. Key activities held as part of this programme included industry roundtables, summits and an education programme organised through the DIFC Academy. The Dubai Sustainable Finance Working Group (DSFWG), chaired and powered by DIFC, has published reports to help companies bring a structured approach to delivering Net Zero, ESG innovation and sustainability-linked lending.
DIFC’s initiatives will continue to pave the way for the growth of sustainable finance in the region in the run up to COP28 and beyond.