DIFC-registered non-financial firms can now also operate in Dubai mainland

DIFC has signed an MoU with Dubai Economy (previously DED)



Non-regulated (non-financial) companies registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) freezone will now also be able to get a licence to operate in mainland Dubai, it was revealed on Monday.

DIFC has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Dubai Economy [earlier Department of Economic Development (DED)] to allow non-regulated companies operating within the financial freezone to obtain a dual licence that allows them to also operate outside DIFC.

Until now, non-financial companies registered in DIFC could operate within the UAE only within the freezone.

Under the MoU, a central data repository will be established, allowing data exchange between the two entities. Joint inspections will also be carried out to ensure better compliance, prevent fraud and increase consumer protection, a statement said.

The MoU aims to “increase levels of governance, compliance and transparency for businesses working within the financial centre infrastructure”, official news agency WAM reported.

Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC, said: “This MoU is further evidence of DIFC’s efforts to encourage robust best practice and our commitment to our 2024 strategy that will see us triple in size.

“The new licence agreement and increased level of governance, transparency and compliance from this MoU will directly benefit businesses in DIFC and contribute to the economic growth of Dubai, the UAE and wider region.”

The financial freezone set a target in 2014 of having 1,000 financial firms in operation by 2024.

The strategy also targets increasing DIFC’s combined workforce from 17,860 in 2014 to 50,000 and growing the overall assets under management of fund managers and financial institutions to an estimated $250bn by 2024, from $10.4bn in 2014.

DIFC also expects financial firms to strengthen their balance-sheet by an estimated value of $400bn.

In February, Kazim confirmed that the total number of firms operating in DIFC reached 447 in 2016, up by 10 per cent from the previous year.

Total workforce reached 21,611 last year, while the combined balance sheet touched $144bn.

“If we continue to achieve the same growth rates as we did in the past two years of our strategy we might be able to exceed some of our targets by 2024,” Kazim told reporters.

Read more: Dubai’s DIFC could have more than 1,000 firms by 2024

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