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The DIFC celebrates its 10th anniversary

Hisham Farouk Hisham Farouk


Founded in 2002 with operations commencing in 2004, the Dubai International Financial Centre (commonly known as DIFC) marks its 10th anniversary this year announcing further strategic growth by 2020. The DIFC stands at the heart of Dubai spread across 110 acres (approx.) on land once filled with sand. Now occupied by some of the largest financial services, banking, legal and accountancy firms in the world, it stands firmly amongst the financial hubs in New York, London and Hong Kong.  Its primary aim is to serve the vast region of the Middle East, North Africa and South East Asia, which eludes many to believe that Dubai is soon to become the MENA business hub of the world. 

The DIFC was established to create a regional capital market, offering investors and issuers of capital world class regulations and standards, with the hallmarks of the DIFC being integrity, transparency and efficiency.

The emergence of the DIFC also saw the introduction of a privately held financial exchange that opened in September 2005 as Dubai International Financial Exchange (DIFX) which was rebranded to NASDAQ Dubai a few years later. 

As the DIFC marks its 10th anniversary, how will the landscape of this financial centre look in ten years’ time? How further progressive will the DIFC be by 2024? When considering the above and analyzing the progressive growth the DIFC has experienced since inception, it is clearly evident to see the strategic development and input of the leaders continues to develop this key component of the Dubai economy.  I recall the DIFC launching and the impact it made on doing business in Dubai, with large international financial institutions establishing a presence in the market and occupying the DIFC which further reemphasized the gem that this would become locally and internationally.

HE Essa Kazim, Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre said “We intend to double in size by 2018, and one of our targets is to continue to further develop DIFC's infrastructure - both in physical terms, with the revision of the DIFC Master Plan, which was announced last October. We are also aiming to attract new companies to DIFC who look to access the MEASA region from a central base in Dubai.”

The message from UAE business leaders is overwhelmingly positive. Growth in 2013 was expected to be the fastest since the financial crisis at 4.3% and this is forecast to accelerate in 2014 with retail demand, tourism numbers, infrastructure investment and the property sector all on the up, which has been significantly supported by the Expo 2020 win.

Investment in the UAE reflects the continued growth of the region. Economic restructuring has been underpinned by efforts to strengthen the business climate, boost investment and foster the emergence of a more vibrant private sector. The UAE aims to be a regional financial hub and the present market conditions, external market feedback and optimism indicate a positive change in trends.

With an estimated AED 15 billion due to be invested on the growth of DIFC, with the construction project planned for the end of this year, it further leads me to believe, that by 2024 the DIFC will be bigger and better than before. This will further pave the way for international business opportunities, boosting the economy and providing opportunities for businesses operating in the surrounding areas – collectively, stamping Dubai even firmer on the international map. 

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