DIFC eyes ultra-huge growth in Africa, Asia

The Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, the tax-free business park, is relying on economic growth prospects in Africa and South Asia as it adds buildings with a value of Dh15 billion ($4.1 billion) over a decade.

By Alaa Shahine

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Published: Wed 16 Oct 2013, 11:05 AM

Last updated: Tue 7 Apr 2015, 8:21 PM

The DIFC, whose clients include global banks such as Goldman Sachs Group, is seeing a surge in demand from Asian companies and from clients who are using Dubai as a platform to expand into Africa, chief executive officer Jeffrey Singer said. Dubai is home to one of the world’s busiest airports and owns Emirates airline, which flies to more than 120 destinations.

“Dubai is perfectly poised to take advantage of what’s going to be an astronomical growth” rate in the two regions over the next decade, Singer said in an interview in Washington. “We will grow along with that.”

The DIFC opened in 2004 to attract international banks, asset managers and insurers with promises of a zero-tax environment. The centre will seek property companies, developers, funds and real estate investment trusts to develop 17 buildings through joint ventures, DIFC Properties CEO Brett Schafer said on October 8.

Economic growth in sub-Saharan Africa will accelerate to six per cent in 2014, three times faster than the world’s advanced economies, from five per cent this year, according to International Monetary Fund projections. Asia’s developing economies will expand 6.5 per cent, the IMF estimates.

Chinese and Indian companies are filling the gap left by retreating investment banks in Dubai, Singer said.

“We have four of the top Chinese banks,” he said. “The top 20 banks from India, in the DIFC. State Bank of India, the largest, DIFC. Why? Ask them: Africa!” — Bloomberg

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