• The net total of active registered companies operating in the Centre grew to 899 (FY 2011: 848), an increase of 6%
• 90 commercial licences were issued in H1 2012 compared to 64 licences in H1 2011, a year-on-year increase of 41%
• Occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District increased to 98% (FY 2011: 95%) of the leasable space
• Occupancy in DIFC-owned retail space remained consistent at 96%
• Commercial office space within third-party developments under DIFC's management is 86% occupied, compared to 72% occupancy at year end 2011
H. E. Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of the Board of Directors of DIFC Authority commented;
"The strong principles on which DIFC is founded - effective regulation and a dynamic business environment - position DIFC well to continue its development as a world financial centre. There are promising opportunities for significant expansion of DIFC both in terms of the number of companies operating here and the range of activities in which they are engaged."
DIFC has continued to strengthen its position as the international financial centre of choice in the region. As of 30 June 2012, 899 active registered companies had a presence in DIFC (FY 2011: 848 companies), with 329 regulated, 465 non-regulated companies, and 105 retailers (FY 2011: 322 regulated, 423 non-regulated, and 103 retailers). The number of employees working in DIFC stands at around 13,000.
Interest from North America and Europe continues to increase as western multinationals look to diversify their operations and expand towards the East. DIFC also witnessed sustained interest from Middle Eastern and Asian firms looking to increase their exposure to opportunities arising in Africa and the West. Today, the geographical diversity of the Centre's total number of regulated companies reaffirms DIFC's growing status as a global financial centre.
Approximately 36% of regulated member companies come from Europe, 26% from the Middle East, 16% from North America, 11% from Asia, and 11% from the rest of the world.
In the first half of 2012, DIFC issued 90 commercial licences, representing a 41% increase in registrations from same period last year (FY 2011: 135 registrations; H1 2011: 64). The Centre welcomed 9 new regulated companies including:
o Coutts & Company
o Swiss Re Corporate Solutions Ltd
o NBAD Investment Management (DIFC) Limited
o ICAP Securities Limited
o CIMD (Dubai) Limited
o Stonehage Trust holdings (Jersey) Limited
Amongst the licences were 73 issued to new non-regulated companies including:
o Booz & Company (M.E.) LLC
o BMW Finance (United Arab Emirates) Ltd.
o Marubeni Europower (Middle East) Limited
DIFC also attracted 8 new retailers including Mint Leaf of London and Brownbook Publishing FZ LLC.
As it continues to develop its modern and supportive infrastructure, major international firms took up significant additional space within the Centre including ES Bankers, which trebled its presence during the first half of this year.
DIFC remains the financial hub of choice for the world's leading companies with 17 of the world's top 25 banks1, eight of the world's ten largest insurers2, eight out of 15 top law firms3, ten of the top 20 money managers4 and seven of the top ten consultancies5 all based in the Centre.
This is also underlined by Dubai's ranking in the Global Financial Centres Index, which tracks competitiveness among 77 international financial hubs. Dubai is ranked the leading financial centre in the region and was also named amongst the top five centres where companies are thinking of opening offices. Moreover, a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit commissioned by Citi, entitled Hot Spots - Benchmarking global city competitiveness, ranked the most competitive 120 cities in the world for their demonstrated ability to attract capital, business, talent and tourists. Dubai was ranked 40 overall and the first in the MENASA region. Dubai was also ranked 10th overall for its financial maturity.
Soft Infrastructure Development
To remain competitive and operate as per the highest regulatory standards, DIFC continues to develop its internationally-recognised regulatory framework and legal system in order to support the growth of financial services and commercial activities.
During the first six months of 2012, four legislative proposals were published for public consultation and have been submitted for enactment by the Ruler of Dubai. These include amendments to the Employment Law, DIFC Law No. 4 of 2005; the Real Property Law, DIFC Law No. 4 of 2007; and the Data Protection Law, DIFC Law No. 1 of 2007. They also include a draft law and regulations for Non-Profit Incorporated Organisations.
At the same time, DIFC has further strengthened its efforts to develop its relationships with strategic counterparties and organisations. In H1 2012, DIFC Authority signed three mew Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with TheCityUK, the Australia Gulf Council and New South Wales Trade & Investment.
Physical Infrastructure Development6
As new companies join and existing companies expand, demand for space at DIFC continues to grow. A total of 179,700 square feet of new space was occupied in H1 2012 representing 60% of those leased during the whole of 2011 (FY 2011 262,000 square feet).
Occupancy of the DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District (Gate Building, Gate Precinct and Gate Village) remains high above 98% of the leasable space (total commercial office space: 1,379,103 square feet), while occupancy within the DIFC-owned retail space has remained consistent at 96% (Total DIFC-owned retail space: 226,397 square feet).
In the first six months of this year, the Property Lease Management Agreement (PLMA) between DIFC and a number of units in Liberty House expired. As such, third party owned office space managed by DIFC under the PLMA now includes the Currency House, Currency Tower and some units in Liberty House with a total area of 531,659 square feet. These are 86% occupied.
Office space in third party owned office space not managed by DIFC remains available and includes the Index Tower, Park Towers and Emirates Financial Towers as well as a number of units in Liberty House. The total space occupied in these buildings stands at around 349,407 sq ft though occupancy rates for the total space available in these developments are not available to DIFC.