The Dubai International Financial Centre has said that it aims to increase the number of Indian firms working within the freezone to over 100 by 2024, as part of its latest expansion strategy.
The emirate’s financial freezone recently revealed a plan to triple its operations and workforce over the next 10 years. DIFC forecasted that most of the growth will come from Asian markets – mainly India and China.
DIFC said that it has seen strong growth from Indian firms, with numbers growing from one in 2007 to 20 at present. Indian institutions now make up the third largest community of financial firms at the centre while a quarter of the workforce that is employed at DIFC is of Indian origin.
The announcement comes soon after the visit of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi to the United Arab Emirates, during which he pledged to improve economic ties between the two countries.
DIFC, which currently hosts 10 Indian banks, said that it was in discussion with another 10 banks in India regarding their plans to set up base in the region.
Following a series of meetings in Mumbai with many Indian financial services firms, DIFC said that it is seeing a strong interest from Indian wealth and fund management firms as well as those in the insurance and reinsurance market.
“In the last 10 years, the accumulation of surplus wealth in the East and the Middle East has been phenomenal, with most accumulated as sovereign wealth funds flows that are driving the economic development of these regions,” said DIFC’s deputy chief executive Arif Amiri.
“The Middle East and North Africa region is home to nine of the top 20 sovereign wealth funds in the world, with assets totalling approximately $2 trillion.
“Moreover, post the financial crisis we’ve seen a significant shift in the dominance of the West in terms of the financial markets and financial flows. With regards to our new clients, almost 80 per cent of our incremental business is from Asia and the Middle East.”
He emphasised that DIFC is looking to allocate more resources to emerging markets such as India while also working to connect them to developed Western markets.
DIFC’s plans to tap into Indian and Chinese markets will fuel about 50 per cent of its growth in the next 10 years, the centre’s governor Essa Kazim said.
Trade and investment ties between India and the UAE are expected to grow, with Modi and UAE government officials pledging to increase bilateral trade by 60 per cent over the next five years.