Dubai’s International Finance Centre grew by 14 per cent last year

 
Ashley Coates
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Bosses at the state-owned financial free zone, known as the DIFC, say there has been a 10 per cent increase in financial firms registered in the DIFC, and a 17 per cent rise in non-financial companies.

Profits at Dubai’s financial district grew by seven per cent in 2016, totaling Dh421m (£92m).

Dubai is among a number of Gulf states that has suffered from falling oil prices and global uncertainty in 2016. The emirate faced a slowdown last year, posting a growth rate of 2.7 per cent in 2016, down from 4.1 per cent in 2015.

A stronger dollar and a fall in global trade also hit the Dubai economy in 2016, with the retail and real estate industries particularly affected. IMF managing director, Christine Lagarde, has called upon the Arab states to diversify their economies away from oil and find new ways to raise revenue.

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The governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre, Essa Kazim, suggested Dubai’s financial district has been benefitting from increased interest at companies concerned by the impact of Brexit and regulatory changes proposed by the Trump administration.

"If we continue to achieve the same growth rates as we did in the past two years of our strategy we might be able to exceed some of our targets by 2024," Essa Kazim told reporters on Monday.

Kazim said he was seeing strong interest from firms based in China, India and the Middle East, putting the region on track to increase the number of employees in the district from 21,611 to 50,000 by 2024. DIFC hopes to have a combined balance of $400bn (£320m) for firms located in the zone, up from $144bn in 2016.

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“Last year, more than 50 per cent of new companies that joined in the DIFC from the southern hemisphere with China, India and South-East Asia contributing significantly,” Kazim said.

“We expect significant share of future growth to come from Asia and potentially the region taking over Europe, UK and US, in terms of number of companies operating from the DIFC.”

The DIFC has reported 1,648 active registered firms in 2016, up from 1,445 the year before.

“We continue to demonstrate how our offering goes beyond being the region’s leading financial centre, by investing in leading concepts and developments to become a world-class business and lifestyle destination,” Kazim said.

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