The world as we knew it has been turned drastically. Undeniably, the COVID-19 health crisis has been the biggest challenge in generations, and its far-reaching effects have been felt across all industries.
In times of challenge, Dubai has stood firm in its resolve and demonstrated resilience. The emirate has always demonstrated creativity, embraced diversification and supported businesses. This ethos still exists - and we will continue to stand with other entities and businesses across Dubai and UAE’s wider financial ecosystem, to fortify the future of our economy.
The overall financial services sector was the third largest sectoral contributor to Dubai’s real GDP in 2018, generating Dh40.4 billion and representing 10.3 per cent of its total GDP. Since then, DIFC has launched a number of initiatives that will ensure the sector continues to contribute to the economy now and in the long-term. This includes being a key part of Dubai’s Future District, expanding DIFC and driving the future of finance in the region.
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is fully aligned with the government’s innovation-driven economy. The strategy will further differentiate us as a world leading financial centre and cement Dubai’s position as an international business hub. To our benefit, Dubai is a global hub, strategically positioned at the geographical crossroads of East and West offering convenient access to lucrative global markets.
We also have around 2.2 billion people within a five-hour flight radius of our emirate. It leads us to understand why some of the world’s most prestigious financial institutions, retail brands, entrepreneurs and start-up firms have chosen to scale-up operations from Dubai.
It is the startups, financial institutions, professional service providers, family businesses and global corporations in our ecosystem of 2,437 companies that collectively make a profound contribution to Dubai’s prominence on the world stage. DIFC provides an enabling platform, infrastructure, laws and regulations to help them thrive.
A startup support system
DIFC’s 129 innovative startups don’t have established products, legacy systems and processes. Therefore, they are well positioned to spearhead growth as the finance and technology sectors gravitate towards each other at a greater pace than ever before. According to the Dubai Future Foundation, small start-ups constitute about 50 per cent of companies registered in Dubai and represent about 47 per cent of the UAE’s annual GDP.
We will continue to provide an enabling environment to foster innovative research and development, building on DIFC’s existing incubators, accelerators and innovative spaces that have pioneered new concepts and contributed to the sustainable growth of our nation.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, our fiscal easing measures alleviate the burden on firms and helps provide the certainty and flexibility needed to sustain essential business operations. We launched these measures alongside the Dubai Government and other free zones recognising our collective commitment to preserve business continuity today and in the future.
As we look to the future, finance will support healthy economic recovery globally, regionally and locally.
By innovating, working with our clients, partners and government will we can successfully preserve the engines of growth and fortify the future of Dubai’s economy.
- Arif Amiri is CEO of DIFC Authority.