Living up to its reputation as business-friendly destination across the Middle East, the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) has attracted 996 companies, the highest in a calendar year, in 2021.
This represented a 36% increase from 2020 and also more than thrice the average number of companies registered across the last decade.
Notable firms joining DIFC in 2021 included: Air Liquide Middle East & India Holding Limited, BentallGreenOak Advisors (UK) LLP, DP World Financial Services, Dual Corporate Risks Limited, General Reinsurance AG, Howden Insurance Brokers Limited, Hines, Mamopay, Richemont and Thunderbird Global Innovation Center.
The number of active registered firms operating in the DIFC increased by 25% – from 2,919 in 2020 to 3,644 in 2021. Around 1,124 financial and innovation related entities are now active and operating within DIFC, increasing by 23% as against 915 in 2020.
The DIFC also recorded its highest ever annual revenue and operating profit in 2021 with an increase in revenues by 16% – from $210.72 million in 2020 to $244.21 million in 2021. This has crossed the pre-pandemic levels of $228.15 million in 2019.
The increase in revenues and cost control measures resulted in an increase in operating profits. Operating profits for 2021 reached $156 million, an increase of 26%, as against $124.42 million in 2020 and up by 13% compared with $138.85 million in 2019. Even the total assets crossed $4 billion for the first time reflecting the strong financial position of DIFC.
The Centre also continued to benefit from strong appetite for its A-class, centrally located premises. In the past year, an additional 350,000 sq. ft. of commercial space was leased across DIFC as against 201,900 sq. ft. in 2020, up by 73%.
Total banking assets booked in DIFC increased to $198.5 billion in 2021 from $189.4 billion in 2020, representing about 20% consolidated UAE financial sector banking assets. An additional $108.1 billion of lending was also arranged by DIFC firms last year, up from $64 billion in 2020, registering an increase of 69%.
DIFC based Wealth and Asset Management portfolio managers invested $151.4 billion in 2021 compared to $145.6 billion in 2020. Gross Written Premiums for the insurance sector reached $1.8 billion, rising from $1.7 billion in 2020.
Dubai lead economic recovery
Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and President of the DIFC, said: “DIFC’s best ever annual performance reflects Dubai’s position at the forefront of global recovery in the financial sector and the broader economy.”
He further said: “The Centre’s ability to continue building a thriving financial community amidst a rapidly changing international environment demonstrates the far-reaching vision of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, which has enabled the emirate to create a strong economy fuelled by innovation.”