DIFC targets South Asia, Africa for growth
Dubai, September 1, 2010
Dubai's financial centre the DIFC is reaching out to companies from emerging markets including Africa and is considering cost cuts as it seeks to become the Gulf region's main business hub, its chief executive said.
"On our radar screen right now we see Africa and south Asia as very active emerging markets and there are a lot of opportunities there for institutions that want either tap into or utilise the center," said chief executive Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar of the DIFC Authority.
The comments reflect a growing demand from companies operating within the centre to seek business with African markets as they pursue new avenues of growth in the aftermath of the financial crisis.
The authority is the body responsible for infrastructure and development of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), a tax-free zone where hundreds of global financial services companies have set up shop since its launch in 2004 and operate within an international regulatory framework.
Al Awar added officials from the DIFC are undertaking roadshows and client visits to attract new companies to the centre, which boasts 2.1 million square feet of office space.
New companies from China, Malaysia and the Indian subcontinent are in the process of joining, a relatively new trend, whereas the spotlight was initially on attracting well-known, large-scale financial players from Europe and the United States.
The DIFC conducted a strategic review with the help of consultancy McKinsey, the results of which will be implemented later in 2010. One of the elements of DIFC's future strategy will be to cut costs for firms to operate there.
"We are looking at the cost of doing business, not only the rents," said Al Awar. The DIFC is also looking to work more closely with Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates.
DIFC Investments, part of the DIFC group, suffered a $562 million loss in 2009 due to writedowns as its portfolio value fell dramatically in the wake of the economic crisis.
There are currently 745 companies registered in the DIFC, of which 297 are regulated and 374 non-regulated. Of those regulated firms, 42 percent stem from Europe, 40 percent from the Middle East and south Asia, while the rest come from the United States and elsewhere. - Reuters