DIFC is a special economic zone located in the heart of Dubai, and is the region’s leading financial services hub
Dubai’s population is over three million but serves a market of over two billion people who live and work within four hours flying time. Within Dubai – itself a regional and global business hub – lies the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a 110-hectare special economic zone that features its own court system and is geared towards financial innovation.
DIFC has attracted some of the world’s leading financial institutions ranging from major international banks to specialist financial institutions and investors. From a range of entertainment options to a deep wealth management ecosystem, there are many reasons why you should consider moving your company to DIFC:
The most established financial centre in Middle East
Dubai itself is a regional and global business hotspot, home to some of the world’s largest companies. However, DIFC itself can lay claim to being a financial centre in its own right, home to 4,031 active companies and a workforce of 29,700 people. Of that number, there are an estimated 1,252 financial and Innovation related companies including first Global Family Business and Private Wealth Centre that brings together global family-owned businesses, ultra-high net worth individuals (UHNWIs) and Private Wealth in one hub. DIFC has built a solid ecosystem of financial services, a place where banks, wealth managers, investment funds etc rub shoulders, all connected to the world via Dubai International Airport.
Common Law jurisdiction
DIFC Courts are an English-language common law system, offering swift, independent justice to settle local and international commercial or civil disputes. The DIFC Courts were established in 2004 and made possible through a synthesis of Federal and Dubai Law. The courts govern commercial and civil disputes nationally, regionally, and worldwide and include a number of specialised sub-divisions, such as technology, and construction sub-divisions established in 2017, and arbitration division in 2020. The courts attract some of the world’s most experienced international judges as well as Emirati judges who are able to help settle large and complex disputes, as well as small claims by SMEs and individuals.
A place of work, and play
In addition to being a place of work and innovation, DIFC has an abundance of leisure and entertainment options from retail outlets, cafes and restaurants, art galleries, residential apartments, public green areas and hotels. The area provides the perfect place for networking and socialising and is home to world famous brands including the Four Seasons hotel, Christie’s Dubai auction house, Sotheby’s and numerous art galleries.
DIFC Innovation Hub features over 500 technology firms and is the leading innovation ecosystem in the region. Organisations within the Innovation Hub include start-ups and unicorns, VCs, educational entities and regulators. The hub also provides licensing to entrepreneurs and companies, many of whom are at the forefront of new technology and are pushing the boundaries of what is possible including Blockchain and crypto, AI and other innovations. The DIFC Academy provides a number of educational courses, and the hub itself is home to a range of VCs, Family Offices and Institutional Investors. There is also an Accelerator Program that provides start-ups and tech firms with the opportunity to test new products, innovate and access funding opportunities.
What is coming up
In August 2022 DIFC launched a new hub for family businesses and ultra-high net worth individuals. The new centre will provide private wealth support services, including advisory and concierge services, education and training, high-end networking, and dispute resolution assistance. This is believed to be the first of its kind in the world and will offer a key location for HNWIs to protect and grow their wealth.
DIFC 2.0 is and extension and the next chapter of DIFC and will complement the centre’s existing office spaces. Providing an additional 13 million sq ft of offices, residential, retail and innovation space, the new area will include hotels, restaurants, entertainment as well as a ‘financial campus’ and other areas for manufacturers, researchers, entrepreneurs etc. The area will be directly connected to Dubai’s public transport networks and embraces a pedestrian lifestyle with underground service paths allowing for bikes, pedestrians and smart transportation.
The new area will encourage experimentation and innovation and will be home to new technology innovators such as crypto and other tech. regarding cryptocurrencies, in March 2022 the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) issued a consultation paper on the regulation of crypto-tokens. The paper covered a wide range of issues surrounding crypto including how to market it, regulatory requirements and other areas and it is expected to spur further growth and innovation in this area.
For information on setting up in DIFC, contact Alpadis Group.