The DIFC Gate building Image Credit: Gulf News Archives

Dubai: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) on Tuesday announced the highest net profit in its history at $88 million (Dh323 million) in 2018, up 11 per cent compared to $79 million reported in 2017.

“Last year was a record year for DIFC in terms of business activity and financial performance. With 437 companies joining the DIFC last year, we experienced another round of exponential growth, repeating the similar growth trends experienced during the period 2004 to 2008,” said Essa Kazim, the Governor of Dubai International Financial Centre.

In terms of financial performance, the financial freezone reported consolidated revenue of $199 million in 2018, up 5 per cent compared to $189 million in 2017. Operating profits surged 6 per cent to $128 million in 2018 from $121 million in the previous year.

While the Centre continued to attract global companies with a 39 per cent growth, fintech has emerged as a fast-growing segment attracting new companies joining the ecosystem.

Last year, 35 new fintech companies joined DIFC. While the financial centre added 1,266 new jobs, it leased 314,200 square feet of additional space.

In terms of business activity, the DIFC reported that the number of both financial and non-financial companies surged 15 per cent each last year. While the number of financial firms increased from 443 in 2017 to 615 last year, the number of non-financial firms surged to 1,508 from 1,310 in 2017.

The total workforce within the DIFC continued to grow last year to 23,604 from 22,338 in 2017. Going forward, as part of its 2024 growth strategy named DIFC 2.0, the financial centre wants to more than double the number of jobs while broadening and deepening global participation.

In terms of geographic distribution of financial services firms operating in the DIFC, the Middle East and Asia region accounts for 47 per cent, followed by Europe 33 per cent and United States 10 per cent.

DIFC accounted for 3.9 per cent to Dubai’s GDP last year. Despite the global and regional economic challenges the DIFC expects to report stronger results next year.

DIFC 2.0, the 2024 growth strategy

In terms of infrastructure, the DIFC officials said the centre is committed to continue to build best-in-class infrastructure as part of its 2024 growth strategy named as DIFC 2.0 and the masterplan is being finalised.

According to DIFC’s projections for 2024, it wants to grow the number of financial firms from 625 at the close of 2018 to 100 in 2024, total workforce from current 23,604 to 50,000 and total assets under management to $250 billion from $99 billion last year.