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DIFC eyeing global top 10

DIFC eyeing global top 10

Hub aims three-fold expansion within a decade with new and better offerings

By Abdul Basit/chief Reporter

Published: Thu 11 Jun 2015, 11:42 PM

Last updated: Wed 8 Jul 2015, 3:17 PM

Dubai - The Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, aims to grow three-fold in the next 10 years that will help position the free zone among the top 10 financial centres globally.

New York, London and Hong Kong are the top three global financial centres while is Dubai ranked 23rd, according to the latest available data. The DIFC celebrated its 10th anniversary in November 2014. “The DIFC will triple its workforce and office space available in the next 10 years,” Essa Kazim, governor of the DIFC and chairman of the DIFC Authority, told reporters at a news conference on Wednesday.

The DIFC predicts to see about 1,000 firms, up from the current 365, by 2024. Occupied space is expected to increase to 5.5 million sqft compared to 2.5 million sqft available today.

Meanwhile, the workforce in DIFC-registered companies is also expected to triple from 17,860 to 50,000 over the next decade.

Assets under management, or AUM, of fund managers and financial institutions are also expected to rise to an estimated $250 billion by 2024, up from a total of $10.4 billion in 2014.

The DIFC also anticipates financial firms to strengthen their balance sheet by an estimated value of $400 billion in 10 years, compared to $65 billion in 2014. Kazim said that by 2024, the financial sector’s contribution to Dubai’s GDP will grow to 18 per cent from 14 per cent in 2014. The governor said the DIFC will focus on three key areas. “About 30 per cent of the growth will come from deepening our core, which is basically encouraging the current clients of the DIFC to do more. There are areas pertaining to capital markets, investment banking and reinsurance activities where more could be done,” he explained.

He said: “Another 20 per cent will come from building relevance in the global sector. Two areas we can work on are family offices and assets and wealth management. The region has assets worth $7-$8 trillion but only under $1 trillion is being managed by firms here.”

“We see the potential of managing AUM is huge and we need to service that and attract more companies who can manage them,” he added.

The DIFC’s focus on the Asian market builds on the free zone’s current plans of expanding rapidly in China and Korea. “Growth is currently coming from India and China. We are not ruling out companies from North America and Europe — many of them are still here and are a part of our core, which we will continue to grow,” Kazim said. “Our intention is to support the financial sector and not be a profit centre,” he said, adding: “We reduced the rents during the financial crisis and have not raised it since.”

Kazim said: “We aim to enhance our services and product offerings towards boosting business and establishing new benchmarks. In line with Dubai Plan 2021, the DIFC’s strategy identifies the key engines of growth, focusing on new solutions and structural reforms. The centre is critically important to the emirate’s ability to finance growth and create jobs by attracting global investors.”

To enhance the DIFC’s real estate proposition, aggressive plans are underway to combine all plots together to form a pivotal retail project. With the design being finalised, the centre aims to complete the project by the second quarter of 2017. — abdulbasit@khaleejtimes.com

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