x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

DIFC and capital heart of finance

Global financial centres such as New York and London have developed over centuries around a core urban district - Wall Street and The City, respectively.

Global financial centres such as New York and London have developed over centuries around a core urban district - Wall Street and The City, respectively.

The UAE's ambitions to be the financial centre of the Arabian Gulf region focus on the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Al Maryah - formerly Sowwah - Island development in Abu Dhabi.

The DIFC, which began operating in 2004 around the distinctive Gate district, has nearly 900 registered member firms and has grown every year with the exception of 2009, which was affected by the global financial crisis.

The plan is to double the number of member firms and the amount of property within the financial free zone by 2015. Rental income is one of the DIFC's main sources of funding and has increased steadily since the financial crisis.

There has also been an influx of firms from Asia and the Middle East, which are now equal to western institutions as a proportion of total members.

Wealth generated by the DIFC grew by 7 per cent last year to just over US$3 billion (Dh11.01bn), much faster than the main western financial centres and comparable to fast-growing Asian hubs such as Hong Kong and Singapore.

The Al Maryah project was started in 2007 to create the capital's financial and business hub, centred on Sowwah Square, which will house the new home for the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange.

The project, which will include financial, residential, commercial and leisure developments on a 114-hectare site, is scheduled for completion in 2014.

 

fkane@thenational.ae