The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) recorded 437 new company registrations 2018 – the highest since its inception in 2004.
Some of the firms that opened offices in DIFC last year were Al Ahli Bank of Kuwait, Berkshire Hathaway Specialty Insurance, Middle East Venture Partners, and State Street Global Advisors.
The growth resulted in a 15 per cent year-on-year increase in the total number of active registered companies operating in the centre to 2,137, from 1,853 in 2017.
Of these, 625 were financial firms, a statement said.
The DIFC also saw 1,226 new jobs created, bringing the size of its workforce to 23,604 professionals as at year-end 2018.
Net profit last year increased by 11 per cent to $88m, up from $79m in 2017, excluding fair value (FV) gain on investment properties, the statement added.
Essa Kazim, chairman of DIFC Authority Board of Directors and governor of DIFC, said: “The success of 2018 demonstrates that DIFC is clearly on track for our ambitious 10-year strategy to triple in size by 2024.
“The centre is home to the largest cluster of financial institutions and most diverse pool of financial talent in the MEASA region.”
The geographic representation in DIFC remained the same year-on-year, with 36 per cent originating from the Middle East, 33 per cent from Europe, 11 per cent from Asia, 10 per cent from the United States, and 10 per cent from other countries.
Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “We have seen increased momentum across all our key sectors, and particularly in fintech, wealth management and aviation financing, all benefitting from the evolving legal and regulatory environment we offer.”
The number of aviation financing-related companies stood at 25 at the end of 2018, doubling from 13 in 2017.
“This momentum was driven by the projected growth of aviation in the MEASA region, as well as the rising importance of aircraft financing as an alternative asset class,” a statement said.
The DIFC fintech ecosystem now has over 80 sector-related companies, 35 of which are active registered companies in the fields of fintech, insurtech and regtech.
A recent client survey conducted showed that assets under management (AuMs) in the DIFC stood at $99bn as of the third quarter of 2018, the statement added.
In 2018, DIFC also leased over 314,200 sq. ft. of commercial space, with The Exchange, the newest addition to the Gate Village, leasing 98 per cent of its 114,000 sq. ft. of office space soon after completion in March 2018.
The number of retail and lifestyle entities which are connected through Gate Avenue grew to 281 from 226.
In January, the DIFC 2.0 plan was launched as part of which 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.