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DIFC Hails First Half Expansion

by Lorys Charalambous,, Cyprus

13 September 2012

Following years of strong growth since its launch, the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) free zone has announced near-full occupancy in many of its commercial units, in new figures for the first half of the year recently released by the DIFC Authority.

The highlights of the Centre's report include that:

  • The net total of active registered companies operating in the Centre grew to 899 (FY 2011: 848), an increase of 6%;
  • The number of employees working in DIFC stands at around 13,000;
  • 90 commercial licences were issued in H1 2012 compared with 64 licences in H1 2011, a year-on-year increase of 41%;
  • Occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District increased to 98% (FY 2011: 95%) of the leasable space;
  • Occupancy in DIFC-owned retail space remained constant at 96%; and,
  • Commercial office space within third-party developments under DIFC’s management is 86% occupied, compared with 72% occupancy at the end of 2011.

The DIFC has found success in acting as a financial and business hub connecting the region's emerging markets with the markets of Europe, Asia and the Americas. The report said that strong interest continued to be received during the period from entities in North America and Europe seeking to diversify their operations and expand towards the East. More recently, the DIFC has also witnessed sustained interest from Middle Eastern and Asian firms looking to increase their exposure to opportunities arising in Africa and the West.

Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of DIFC Authority, commented: "The strong principles on which DIFC is founded - effective regulation and a dynamic business environment - position DIFC well to continue its development as a world financial centre. There are promising opportunities for significant expansion of DIFC both in terms of the number of companies operating here and the range of activities in which they are engaged.”

The figures show that of those entities established in the DIFC, approximately 36% of regulated member companies come from Europe, 26% from the Middle East, 16% from North America, 11% from Asia, and 11% from the rest of the world.

The DIFC boasts world-leading companies including 17 of the world’s top 25 banks, eight of the world’s ten largest insurers, eight out of the top 15 law firms, 10 of the top 20 money managers and seven of the top ten consultancies.

One of Dubai's many free zones, the DIFC has a highly attractive tax and regulatory regime, offering firms 0% income tax guaranteed for 50 years, 100% foreign ownership, no exchange controls and a legal system based on English common law. In the latest Global Financial Centres Index, which tracks competitiveness among 77 international financial hubs, Dubai was ranked the leading financial centre in the region and was also named amongst the top five centres by companies seeking to open new regional offices.

TAGS: United Arab Emirates | tax | investment | company formation | law | international financial centres (IFC) | offshore company formation | offshore | regulation | Dubai

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