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Dubai International Financial Centre Continues Strong Growth in 2021

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, has delivered strong growth in the first half of 2021, with 492 new company registrations, a 59% increase from the same period in 2020.

The performance, which has enabled DIFC to achieve its ‘2024 Strategy’ growth targets three years ahead of schedule, reaffirms its global status as a financial and innovation centre of choice.

The total number of active registered companies has reached 3,292, an increase of 27% year-on-year (H1 2020: 2,584). This growth represents a tripling in size since 2014 when the ‘2024 Strategy’ was initiated and reflects DIFC’s significant efforts to build on its MEASA market-leading status by continually enhancing its operating environment, legal and regulatory frameworks, innovation offering and depth of its ecosystem. Overall, DIFC is now home to 1,025 financial and innovation-related companies in total, up 25% from last year (H1 2020: 820).

DIFC made strong progress in H1 on realising its vision to drive the future of finance and nurture innovation. The recently launched Innovation Hub has already reached full capacity, with over 140 new start-ups and FinTechs joining this market-leading innovation ecosystem during the first six months of this year.
His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and President of the DIFC, said DIFC’s exceptional accomplishments in the first half of 2021 demonstrates the Centre’s commitment to achieving higher levels of performance and ensuring leadership in the financial sector both regionally and globally.

“The announcement of the H1 2021 results coincides with the launch of 50 new initiatives and projects in the UAE on Sunday based on the ‘Principles of the 50’ document, which is set to serve as a strategic roadmap for the country’s new era of political, economic and social development. These ambitious steps taken by the UAE will pave the way for continued growth within various vital sectors, including the financial sector – further accelerating Dubai’s reputation as a leading global financial centre and raising the trust of our stakeholders and partners,” Sheikh Maktoum said.

His Highness added that DIFC’s ability to maintain a high momentum of growth despite the global repercussions of the pandemic reflects the Centre’s high levels of preparedness. Sheikh Maktoum praised the DIFC team’s impressive performance amid the current worldwide environment and urged them to enhance cooperation with partners in order to consolidate further growth.

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, added: “DIFC has successfully built a global reputation as the leading financial centre in the MEASA region and the achievement of our ‘2024 Strategy’ target to triple in size three years ahead of schedule is testament to the appeal of our proposition. Our continued growth also reflects the success of our forward-thinking approach to focus on driving both the future of finance and technology and innovation more broadly, enabling DIFC to attract pioneering start-ups and best-in-class global institutions alike. DIFC will continue to build on our success to date to play a key role in accelerating not only our own growth but also the economic diversification of Dubai.”

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said: “Our reputation as a leading global centre for finance, FinTech and innovation has contributed to our ability to attract new entities to our ecosystem, alongside our continued efforts to enhance our operating environment, regulatory frameworks and innovation initiatives. As we look ahead to our next stage of growth, DIFC remains committed to working together with our partners and clients to lead the way in delivering the future of finance and the tremendous growth opportunities that this offers to us all.”

Inaugurated in May, the DIFC Innovation Hub is the region’s most comprehensive and largest innovation proposition dedicated to the future of finance. The Innovation Hub has reached full capacity with tenants including early to growth-stage start-ups such as YAP, Beehive, Tabby, Xpence, Stake, Rain and Bayzat as well as Thunderbird School of Global Management, part of Arizona State University, and established tech companies including Ebury, Amazon and Huawei. To meet demand, DIFC has announced a fourfold expansion to the Hub in the next two years in order to accommodate up to 1,000 businesses.

The DIFC Innovation Hub also incorporates the FinTech Hive which runs a number of key initiatives designed to identify and support world-class new FinTech and technology start-ups.

DIFC continues to review and update its laws to ensure they remain at the forefront of international best practice. DIFC’s leading legal and regulatory framework is a key attraction for international organisations seeking to do business in the region, as well as using it as a bridge into other markets.


  • Polly is a journalist, content creator and general opinion holder from North Wales. She has written for a number of publications, usually hovering around the topics of fintech, tech, lifestyle and body positivity.

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