Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region’s leading global financial centre has reported its best annual performance to date.
DIFC further reinforced its global profile with a year of strong growth against the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic. The Centre achieved its 2024 Strategy growth targets three years ahead of schedule during the first half of 2021. DIFC recorded 996 company registrations last year, the highest ever recorded in a single year for the Centre, a 36% increase from 2020. The growth in company numbers is more than triple the average number across the last decade. The total number of active registered firms operating in DIFC increased by 25% to 3,644 entities from 2,919 in 2020. A total of 1,124 financial and innovation related entities are now active and operating within DIFC, increasing by 23%, versus 915 in 2020.
Amongst its 3,644 entities, DIFC is home to 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, 25 of the world’s top 30 global systemically important banks, five of the top 10 insurance companies, five of the top 10 asset managers and many leading global law and consulting firms.
Significant growth has been achieved across business sectors, including banking, capital markets, wealth and asset management and professional services. Exponential numbers of new clients came from the FinTech and Innovation sectors. In 2021, these increased to 503 from 303 in 2020.
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.
Employment grew by 11% to 29,700, with a net increase of around 3,000 employees, indicating the highest net growth in over a decade. These jobs represent a high-skilled workforce, across 150 nationalities who have the highest contribution to GDP per person across all economic sectors in Dubai.
In 2021, DIFC also recorded its highest ever annual revenue and operating profit. Revenue increased by 16% to AED 897 million year-on-year versus AED 774 million in 2020, and up by 7% from AED 838 million in 2019. Operating profit for 2021 reached AED 573 million, an increase of 26% versus AED 457 million in 2020 and up by 13% compared to AED 510 million in 2019.