DUBAI – Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is well on track to double in size over the next decade with companies from China and South-east Asia set to fuel its next phase of growth, the governor of the financial free zone said on Monday.
The zone’s expansion illustrates the shift away from traditional financial centres such as London and New York due to the increasing wealth of emerging market economies, and the increasing importance of the Middle East as a hub.
DIFC has its own labour laws and court system separate from the wider United Arab Emirates. Since opening a decade ago, it has risen to become the most prominent financial hub in the Middle East, with many international banks, law and advisory firms and insurance companies using it as their regional base of operations.
“We’ve been growing very fast, in terms of the number of companies and people that are working in the DIFC, and if you extrapolate that, we’ll manage to double everything in the next 10 years,” DIFC governor Essa Kazim told reporters at a media event.
“Chinese and South-east Asian companies are showing a strong interest in the region so we are working with them to capitalise on Dubai and the DIFC as a hub for their businesses to expand. That is where I feel the growth will happen.”
The doubling in size would be in terms of floor space, the number of people working in the centre and the number of companies there, Kazim added.
In total, around 17,000 people worked in 1,147 companies based in the area at the end of August, according to figures provided by the centre.
The DIFC currently has around 15.2 million square feet of office and other space, such as retail and hotels, and plans to add an extra 10.2 million square feet have already been announced.
DIFC Investments, the investment arm of the free zone, raised $700 million from a 10-year sukuk earlier this month that will help to fund its real estate development as well as pay off existing debt.
There were no plans to sell further Islamic bonds at the present time, Chief Financial Officer Rajesh Pareek told the event, saying the money that was raised from the sukuk was sufficient for its needs.
Originally published on www.zawya.com/