Dubai: Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has reported strong growth in terms of number of companies, number of employees and total area leased within its jurisdiction during the first six months of 2015.

The number of active companies registered at the Centre grew 8.3 per cent while the number of people employed within DIFC jumped nearly 5 per cent to more than 18,500.

“With a growing portfolio of active registered firms and an ever expanding and vibrant workforce, we are maximising the opportunities for investment into and trade with the emerging markets of the MEASA region,” said Eisa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of DIFC Authority.

At the close of the first half of 2015 the Centre had a total of 1,327 active registered companies, compared with 1,225 firms at the end of 2014, and 1,113 in the first half of 2014, representing an increase of 8.3 per cent and 19.2 per cent, respectively.

A total of 140 new companies were licensed during the first six months of the year, including 36 financial services firms, 91 non-financial services companies and 13 retailers.

During the first six months of the year, the total number of people employed by companies within the Centre rose 4.8 per cent to 18,521, from 17,680 at the end of 2014, and 11.8 per cent compared with 16,560 in the first sixth months of 2014.

In terms of numbers, all segments of businesses operating in the DIFC reported robust growth. Out of the 1,327 active firms in the first half of 2015, 382 are financial services firms, up 9.1 per cent from 350 in the first half of 2014; 750 are non-financial services firms, up 25 per cent from 600, and 182 are retailers, up 14.5 per cent from 159 in the first six months of last year.

Among the new companies that set up operations in the first half of 2015, DIFC welcomed Lloyd’s of London, the global leader in specialist insurance and reinsurance, in March.

Joining in April, Bae, Kim & Lee (BKL), DIFC’s first Korean law firm, will advise the growing community of Korean companies investing in the Mena region. BankMed, one of Lebanon’s fastest growing banks, officially launched its operations in March.

Middle East focus

DIFC’s first-half results data point to significant growth from the Middle East region, with the majority (53 per cent) of registered companies originating from the region, followed by 19 per cent from Europe, 8 per cent from North America and 6 per cent from Asia, with the rest of the world accounting for 14 per cent.

By comparison, in the first six months of 2014, Europe represented 35 per cent of registered companies, while the Middle East, North America and Asia represented 30 per cent, 14 per cent and 12 per cent, respectively.

Banks and capital market firms now account for 42 per cent of active financial firms operating at DIFC (24 per cent and 18 per cent, respectively), while wealth management companies represent 41 per cent and insurance firms 16 per cent.

The latest Dh205 million expansion of the DIFC site master-plan, part of the Centre’s 2024 growth strategy, saw the Gate Village Building 11 break ground in July.

“The new building in The Gate District will be ready in 2017 and will cater to growing demand from both businesses and retailers, offering 160,000 sq ft of office space and 40,000 sq ft dedicated to retail and F&B outlets,” said Arif Amiri, Deputy CEO, DIFC.

The building will span a total area of 200,000 square feet. The project is set for completion in the second quarter of 2017.

Aspiring to rank among the world’s top 5 financial hubs, DIFC announced its 10-year growth strategy in June aimed at deepening its core client synergies and further expanding its regulatory and physical infrastructure.

In addition to connecting the developed markets of the West with the emerging economies of the East, DIFC will realise further operational expansion by stimulating trade and investment in the South-South corridor.

DIFC aims to grow the financial sector’s share of the UAE economy to 18 per cent of GDP by 2024, compared with 12 per cent in 2013.