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DIFC Chief Looks To The Future

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

20 November 2007

Dr. Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), on Monday debated key issues, including Dubai’s long-term sustainability, on the first day of the FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit.

The Financial Times and DIFC gathered senior financial sector executives, corporate decision-makers and regulatory and government officials, including some of the biggest names in international finance, to discuss key issues affecting the world’s financial centres.

The summit, which took place over one and a half days, is the cornerstone of this year’s DIFC week, underlining the progress made by the DIFC, backed by its financial services authority and fully regulated capital market, towards its goal of becoming a global financial hub on a par with New York, London and Hong Kong. This is the first FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit, with the second due to take place in London next year.

John Ridding, Chief Executive of the Financial Times, observed that the FT/DIFC World Financial Centres Summit was occurring at a significant moment. “Our timing is good,” he stated. “The sub-prime crisis has created upheaval, forcing us to re-examine the forces at work and the policies that regulate them.”

Beyond timing, he suggested, location is important. He observed that: “Dubai is inspirational, and is quickly becoming a leading global financial hub.”

During the morning session, the Governor discussed issues such as: maintaining the pace of Dubai’s growth; the impact of the sub prime crisis on the Middle East; diversification of the regional economy; collaboration and competition between financial centres; the regional pool of superabundant liquidity; the transparency of sovereign wealth funds (SWFs); and attracting and developing human capital.

According to Bin Sulaiman, there are two main challenges for Dubai going forward: political stability of the region; and human resources. "We need to provide the best opportunities and continue innovation to attract the best people," he noted.

Bin Sulaiman went on to observe that diversification was a necessity for Dubai's growth and sustainability. "We moved away from oil towards trade, tourism, financial services, and cluster economies, such as media, technology and healthcare. We should not underestimate the importance of these clusters," he remarked.

He also predicted that the role of financial centres, including that of Dubai, will become more significant as certain regions continue to develop.

“Due to the current growth in regions such as the Middle East and Asia, all financial centres will become more significant. However, there will be a distinction between local, regional and global centres – there will be maybe 4 or 5 global centres, and then a number of regional and local centres to serve the immense growth and development. The flow of liquidity, investment and best practices will ease the flow of business overall," he forecast.

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