Power Letters 2022: Arif Amiri, CEO, DIFC Authority
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Power Letters 2022: Arif Amiri, CEO, DIFC Authority

Power Letters 2022: Arif Amiri, CEO, DIFC Authority

Amidst a global pandemic, DIFC achieved its 2024 Strategy growth targets three years ahead of schedule in the first half of 2021


During 2021, there was a noticeable shift in optimism across the UAE, as one of the best vaccination programmes in the world rolled out, recovery came in oil production and we saw a rebound in tourism which has been supported by the successful start of Expo 2020 Dubai.

While analysts predicted the road to recovery will take a while globally, the UAE – and Dubai in particular – is quickly closing the gap owing to the country’s strong response to the pandemic. The International Monetary Fund expects the UAE economy to grow from 2.2 per cent in 2021 to 3 per cent in 2022. Average growth between 2022 and 2026 is expected to be 3.3 per cent, reinforced by the improved performance of the oil and non-oil economy, macroeconomic stimulating policies and the recovery of tourism.

DIFC performed extremely well during 2021 and continues to be a key contributor to the UAE’s economic growth and success. Amidst a global pandemic, DIFC achieved its 2024 Strategy growth targets three years ahead of schedule in the first half of 2021. The total number of active registered companies now stands at more than 3,300, reinforcing Dubai’s status as a leading global financial centre.

Dubai has an ambition to be a global hub for technology and innovation. DIFC is playing a significant role in delivering this ambition. Exponential growth in recent years has come from these kinds of businesses joining the centre. The DIFC Innovation Hub was inaugurated in 2021. As the region’s first ecosystem dedicated to bringing the fintech and innovation community together to shape the future of finance and the economy, it has been so successful that we are quadrupling the size of the hub to 315,000sq ft in the coming years. Over 400 technology and innovation firms, ranging from startups to global unicorns, now call DIFC home – that’s more than 60 per cent of all those in the GCC.

In the year ahead, DIFC will focus on creating a thriving business environment that will support entrepreneurship, ultimately driving the future economy. Fortunately, critical enablers for innovation including investment in research and development, supportive policy and legal frameworks, and measures to attract foreign investment are present in the UAE and are high on the list in our economic strategy.

Over the years, we have introduced and amended laws and regulations to support DIFC as a global business and innovation hub, which has attracted a number of global firms to the centre, where they can easily do business. Not only has this laid a solid foundation for DIFC’s growth in 2022, it also helps Dubai become a global hub for technology and innovation.

We recognise the massive potential and impact of innovations pioneered by the finance industry crossing over into other applications. Innovation has become fundamental to our survival, sustainability and growth – and our region presents compelling opportunities for innovation companies, both homegrown and those looking at international expansion. We see the waves of disruption accelerating, and we expect them to continue to dramatically transform our lives while creating trillions of dollars’ worth of new industries across the world and here in the region.

DIFC will capitalise on the immense opportunities in emerging financial segments and enabling technologies. These will deliver significant job creation and economic benefits in line with our vision to drive the future of finance. We will also continue to strengthen UAE competitiveness through inter-regulatory collaboration with the UAE Central Bank and other industry partners to drive the digitisation of the industry, shape the future of open finance and adoption of common standards for enabling technologies.

The future for finance is exciting. The future of finance is happening here and now.

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