Dubai tops global cities in attracting FDI projects

Emirate surpassed major financial centres, including London, Singapore, New York and Paris


Issac John

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Published: Wed 13 Jul 2022, 12:01 AM

Last updated: Wed 13 Jul 2022, 12:04 AM

Dubai and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) have topped the global ranking in attracting foreign direct investment (FDI) projects in the financial services sector in 2021, according to a report.

Dubai has surpassed major financial cities, including London, Singapore, New York and Paris, in attracting FDI, according to the report released by the Dubai Investment Development Agency (Dubai FDI), an agency of the Department of Economy and Tourism (DET).

The ranking is based on the ‘fDi Markets’ data, the most comprehensive database of cross-border greenfield investments available, covering all countries and sectors worldwide.

Globally, DIFC ranked first as a free zone in attracting FDI in the financial services sector in 2021 and during the period of 2017-2021, supporting Dubai to attract 58 FDI projects in the sector, totalling Dh926.2 million and generating 1,432 jobs, it said.

Between 2017 and 2021, the financial services sector in Dubai attracted 184 FDI projects worth Dh5.2 billion and created 5,727 jobs.

In Global Venture Capital FDI Projects, Dubai ranked first in Mena and tenth globally, according to the ‘Global Venture Capital FDI Ranking 2022’ report based on data gathered during 2003-2021. Further data from ‘Dubai FDI Monitor,’ supported by Magnitt, revealed that 84 Dubai-based startups successfully attracted Venture Capital (VC) Backed FDI worth Dh2.34 billion in 2021.

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said the global financial services industry and wider business community’s confidence in DIFC consistently enable the Centre to facilitate substantial foreign direct investment into Dubai.

“This has supported Dubai’s top-ranking globally in attracting FDI projects in the financial services sector in 2021, and DIFC ranking as the best performing free zone for the last five years. The Centre’s commitment to further differentiate itself as the region’s leading global financial centre, positioned alongside other global cities, such as London, New York, Paris and Singapore, reflects our commitment to continuously evolve our existing world-class business-enabling ecosystem, legal and regulatory framework, and innovation proposition to attract companies from around the world,” said Amiri.

“We are proud to announce that DIFC has achieved the top position in attracting FDI in the financial services sector, reinstating its position as the leading global financial centre in the region,” said Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of Dubai FDI.

He said the Centre’s world-class infrastructure, as well as its stable and innovative environment, have been the reasons for its success. “On the other hand, Dubai’s top ranking in FDI is a testament to its strong fundamentals and the confidence that investors and multinationals have in this region. Despite the challenges the world has faced in the past few years – the pandemic and economic changes – Dubai has provided a strong and sustainable investment environment. We, at Dubai FDI, will continue working on enhancing Dubai’s attractiveness for FDI by providing specialised and reliable services to the investor community,” said Al Gergawi.

The Dubai FDI Monitor data also revealed that the UK continued to lead as the top source country based on FDI projects in the financial services sector in 2021, followed by the US, Switzerland, India and Cyprus. The UK also maintained its position as the leading source country based on FDI capital, followed by the United States, India, Switzerland and Lebanon in the same year.

Between 2017 to 2021, the top five source countries based on FDI projects were the UK, the US, Switzerland, India and China. In terms of FDI capital, during the same time, the UK ranked first, followed by the US, Cayman Islands, Bahrain and India.

According to the report, Greenfield (wholly-owned investments) projects accounted for 84 per cent of the total FDI projects in Dubai’s financial services sector in 2021, up from 81 per cent between 2017 to 2021; Reinvestment projects accounted for 9.0 per cent, up from 8.0 per cent; and Greenfield (joint venture) projects accounted for 2.0 per cent, up from 1 per cent during the same period.


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