DIFC clears final legal hurdle

24 September 2004
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) took the final step into legal existence on 19 September, with the promulgation of the centre's own rules and regulations and of those governing its regulator, the DIFC Financial Services Authority (DFSA), by Dubai Crown Prince, UAE Defence Minister and chairman of the DIFC Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum. The move follows the passage in July of the federal decree establishing the DIFC and the enactment on 16 September of the Dubai law setting up and defining the functions of the country's first financial services free zone. 'The DIFC is now open for business,' said Habib al-Mulla, chairman of the DFSA regulatory council.

In total, 12 laws were issued in the first batch. These are the regulatory law, the companies law, the law on the application of civil and commercial laws, the law relating to the application of DIFC laws, the limited liability partnership law, the contract law, the insolvency law, the arbitration law, the data protection law, the general partnership law, the markets law and the law regulating Islamic financial business.

Also on 19 September, the DFSA announced that the first three licences had been granted to operate in the DIFC, to Julius Baer (Middle East), Standard Chartered Bankand GCC Energy Fund Managers. Further licences are due to be granted imminently. The milestone in the development of the DIFC follows a turbulent period in the centre's development, which saw both the chairman and chief executive of the DFSA removed in late June and the head of the DIFC's land management company dismissed in early September (MEED 3:9:04; 9:7:04).

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