Abu Dhabi Global Market continues epic journey as fastest-growing IFC in region

The success of ADGM, according to CEO Dhaher Al Mheiri, is reflected in rising demand for its services and for companies to be based in the UAE’s capital city


Rasha Abu Baker

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Published: Mon 22 May 2023, 11:22 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 May 2023, 12:15 PM

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is continuing to reinforce its position as a global hub for businesses looking to expand their operations in the region. ADGM’s rapid progress and achievements in just 8 years of operations have made it the fastest-growing international financial centre (IFC) in the MENA region in terms of numbers as well as geographic coverage.

Last year, ADGM began expanding its jurisdiction across Al Maryah Island in order to cater for the growing demand for a wider choice of office space, adding an additional 32,000 sqm with the introduction of the Al Maryah Tower. Earlier this month, the financial district announced the expansion of its jurisdiction as a financial free zone to combine the area of Al Maryah Island and Al Reem Island to enlarge its footprint by a factor of 10, and now covers a total area of 14.38 million sqm, becoming one of the largest financial districts in the world and attracted industry giants such as Bridgewater Associates, the world's largest hedge fund, and more recently the IPA for Goldman Sachs to open a branch.

The success of ADGM, according to CEO Dhaher Al Mheiri, is reflected in the rising demand for its services and for companies to be based in the UAE’s capital city. “With more than 6,000 companies currently registered and licensed at ADGM, we are delighted to have witnessed such huge growth, culminating in 2022’s achievement of a 30 per cent increase,” he told Khaleej Times.

Dhaher Al Mheiri
Dhaher Al Mheiri

Al Mheiri explained that the achievement of ADGM’s mission and goals is based on its four key strategic themes that focus on people, performance, efficiency and progressive regulatory framework. He said, “Growth as a driver of the main pillars is the combination of progress in both the size and numbers of ADGM. The expansion of ADGM’s jurisdiction stands as a testament to it being the fastest-growing IFC in the region, in addition to its recently published achievements of 2022.”

When asked about additional towers being added, Dhaher explained: “ADGM and its authorities are currently working with key government stakeholders and other local authorities to work towards creating a seamless transition.” He reiterated ADGM’s alignment with Abu Dhabi’s overall goals when speaking of what he envisions for the IFC in the coming years, saying: “Our efforts underline Abu Dhabi’s economic vision as well as ADGM’s Growth Strategy 2023-2027, which aims to grow the financial sector of Abu Dhabi and position it as a leading financial hub with the sector becoming a key contributor to GDP.”

Al Mheiri attributed the majority of ADGM’s successes to its progressive yet strong regulatory framework that offers a holistic ecosystem to well-established firms, investment companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs, offering accessibility and customer-centricity, describing the framework as a differentiating factor, making it a launchpad for both regional and international businesses.

“Abu Dhabi has emerged as the ‘falcon economy’ and a gateway of opportunities to the MEASA (Middle East, Africa and South Asia) region, due to the presence of some of the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds (SWFs) and an abundance of private wealth capital that fulfils the investment and funding needs of various businesses,” he said, adding: “The UAE’s capital has become a destination of choice due to this unique selling proposition, garnering recognition as the financial hub not just in the region but also globally.”

By being home to some of the world's largest sovereign wealth funds, with more than $1.3 trillion in assets according to the data platform Global SWF (Sovereign Wealth Fund), Abu Dhabi has strongly owned its recognition as the ‘capital of capital’. The emirate also stands as one of the fastest-growing millionaire destinations in the world, with a high concentration of 23,800 HNWI, making it the third largest location for HNWIs in the MENA region, according to the Henley Global Citizen’s Report.

The CEO emphasised ADGM’s focus on continuously strengthening its regulatory capabilities and environment that supports capital raising for more and more businesses to call Abu Dhabi their home and regional headquarters, saying that ADGM’s proximity to SWFs and institutional investors, enables it to capitalise on this opportunity.

“Every initiative by ADGM is introduced keeping in mind the advancement of the emirate’s goals and ambitions for the coming years and pushes ADGM to redouble its efforts to create vast opportunities and serve as a future-proof mechanism to keep introducing economic opportunities,” he explained.

ADGM’s objectives are to strengthen its leading position in the regional and global financial industry, especially in important sectors such as asset management, sustainable finance, digital assets, and private funds. Its focus on asset management has led some of the top global companies in this sector, such as Brevan Howard, Gulf Capital, Winton Capital, ACM Limited and Halo Investing to be based in the IFC

As ADGM continues to attract more global companies and increase its reach, especially with its recent physical expansion, it is expected to play a pioneering role in the economic diversification of Abu Dhabi, and advance its position as an international financial hub that is both progressive and sustainable.


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