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Dubai’s DIFC creates over 2,000 new jobs, adds 493 new businesses in 2019

Dubai’s DIFC creates over 2,000 new jobs, adds 493 new businesses in 2019

Total banking assets booked in DIFC stood at $178bn in 2019

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) attracted 493 new businesses in 2019, with the total number of companies at the centre rising 14 per cent in 2019 to reach 2,437.

In total, the DIFC is home to 737 active financial firms, representing an 18 per cent increase since 2018, it announced on Sunday.

Some of the new registrations in 2019 include AntFinancial’s global payments pioneer WorldFirst, Malaysia’s Maybank Islamic Berhad, US financial services firm Cantor Fitzgerald, and Mauritius Commercial Bank.

Read: Malaysia’s largest Islamic bank Maybank launches first overseas branch in Dubai’s DIFC

Meanwhile fintech companies in the centre grew four-fold to 129 in 2019. New entrants to DIFC included Wethaq (Capital Markets), Likvidi Securities (formerly known as TokenMarket Capital Limited), and Fenergo.

DIFC also said it received a record number of applications – 425 – for its accelerator programme FinTech Hive in 2019 from startups operating in the regtech, Islamic fintech, insurtech and broader fintech sectors.

The centre also invested directly in fintech startups including in payments, roboadvisory, blockchain and KYC platforms. In March 2019, DIFC also announced the appointment of Middle East Venture Partners and Wamda Capital to manage $10m of its $100m fintech fund.

In 2019, the DIFC also saw the creation of 2,034 new jobs, increasing its combined workforce to more than 25,600 professionals, up 9 per cent compared to 2018.

Total banking assets booked in DIFC stood at $178bn in 2019, up 13 per cent from 2018. An additional $99bn of lending was also arranged by DIFC firms.

DIFC’s total wealth and asset management industry is now worth $424bn, of which $99bn was invested by DIFC portfolio managers.

In terms of retail, the centre announced a 13 per cent rise in active retailers to reach 310 last year, compared to 274 retailers at the end of 2018. New gourmet concepts including Amazonico, Shanghai ME, Hutong, Marea, Avli by Tasha and Saltbae were opened in DIFC last year.

Last year also saw the launch of the Waldorf Astoria, Dubai International Financial Centre, a 275-key hotel, which boosted the total number of hotel rooms in the DIFC to 722.

New laws

During 2019, the centre’s legal and regulatory framework were changed with new laws issued around employment, intellectual property, insolvency, and a flexible new prescribed companies regime for investment and structuring purposes.

Read: Dubai’s DIFC legislates new leasing law to protect property owners, tenants

The DIFC Employee Workplace Savings (DEWS) scheme – an employee savings plan that offers a voluntary savings component for employees – was also launched last year.

In 2019, the DIFC’s regulator, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), also revealed a new regime to facilitate the passporting of funds. The UAE passporting regime is a regulatory mechanism for the promotion and supervision of investment funds that encourages foreign licenced firms in financial free zones, based in other countries, to enter the local market.

Also read: Understanding DIFC’s new insolvency law: What kind of an impact will it have?

Dubai’s DIFC enacts new employment law, introduces paternity leave

In January last year, the DIFC 2.0 plan was launched as part of which it was announced that the centre will be expanded by a total of 13 million square feet.

Upon completion, the new district will comprise 6.4 million square feet of office space, 2.6 million square feet of creative space, 1.5 million square feet of residences, 1.3 million square feet of retail space and 700,000 square feet devoted to leisure and entertainment.

Read: In pictures: Dubai’s ruler approves DIFC expansion plan

“Both the DIFC’s expansion and its ability to reinforce its status as a hub for the world’s largest financial institutions are all the more exceptional considering the current stagnant growth in the global financial industry,” said Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, deputy ruler of Dubai and president of the DIFC.

“We will work to further strengthen our soft and hard infrastructure to support DIFC-based companies in discovering new growth opportunities and creating greater value. We also seek to consolidate our leadership in the global financial landscape through strategic investments in innovation and technology.”

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, added: “We have a deep commitment to developing the technologies necessary for digitising the future economy of the region. The rapid growth of young tech firms setting up in DIFC is validation of our strategy to help startups to grow by providing access to capital, talent and mature partners with established networks. We are developing a tech ecosystem that will enable tomorrow’s entrepreneurs to flourish.”

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