The number of financial companies operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) grew 11% during the first half, despite the global turndown forcing some banks to cut jobs.
The region's largest financial centres said the number of companies increased 14%, or 250 new firms, in January-June 2019 period to 2,289. It also houses now more than 671 finance-related firms, an increase of 11%. The addition of new firms resulted in creation of 660 new jobs, taking combined workforce in the financial centre to more than 24,000.
The financial services firms that joined in 2019 include Maybank Islamic Berhad from Malaysia, Cantor Fitzgerald from the US, Atlas Wealth Management from Australia and Mauritius Commercial Bank. In addition, leading non-financial firms including Guidepoint MEA, Medtronic Finance Hungary Kft. and Network International, have also joined the Centre in the first six months of 2019.
The strong performance that the centre has delivered during the first half of 2019 highlights the confidence and trust that international financial institutions have in Dubai"
"Dubai continues to gain recognition on the global stage as the destination where business meets innovation, and the DIFC has been a significant driver of this. The strong performance that the centre has delivered during the first half of 2019 highlights the confidence and trust that international financial institutions have in Dubai," said sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and head of the DIFC.
The DIFC has announced a phased growth plan that will triple the scale of the hub.
"The DIFC has been a pioneer in the financial services sector since its inception in 2004, as the first purpose-built financial centre in the MEASA region. 15 years on, we continue to demonstrate our forward-thinking approach with the enhancement of our legal and regulatory framework, as well as the development of a comprehensive ecosystem," Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC.
Dubai ranked as the Middle East's leading financial centre in a March study by consulting firm Z/Yen. The hub climbed three places to No. 12, ahead of Abu Dhabi by 14 places. Riyadh ranked 61st.
Recently, DIFC announced four new licences at a reduced fees to make it more competitive at the global level and attract foreign multinationals. The four new licences are categorised in to short-term licences, restricted licences, commercial permissions and dual licences which would allow more firms to conduct business from the centre.
It has also rolled out reforms. In May, sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid enacted new insolvency and employment laws for companies operating at the centre. The insolvency law came into effect on June 13, with the employment law set to go live on August 28. DIFC is also replacing the end-of-service gratuity with investment plans from January 1 next year.