The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is looking to expand its infrastructure and attract more international firms to set up operations within the financial hub.

“We have been growing very fast,” Essa Kazim, governor at the DIFC, told reporters on 10 November, speaking at an event celebrating the centre’s 10-year anniversary. “[Given] the growth we have been able to achieve in the past 10 years, we will able to double everything in the next 10 years,” .  

Within the next four years alone the centre is looking to increase the number of firms active in the DIFC by more than 50 per cent to reach 1,700 companies by 2018. During the first half of this year the number of active registered companies stood at 1,113 firms.

The centre is currently developing a fourth business centre at Gate Village Two, which is adding 11,000 square feet of office space to accommodate the anticipated increase in new businesses.

DIFC is also expecting more companies from Asia to set up operations in Dubai.  

“Chinese and Southeast Asian companies are showing strong interest in the region and we are promoting to them to really capitalise on Dubai and DIFC as a hub for their business to grow in the region,” says Kazim.

“That is where the growth in the next five to 10 years will be coming from,” he adds.   

The 10-year celebrations follow the DIFC’s recent return to the capital markets, with the DIFC Investments having raised an oversubscribed 10-year $700m sukuk (Islamic bond) at the beginning of November. It was the centre’s first sukuk issuance since 2007.

The sharia-compliant bond is being used to pay off an existing syndicated loan, as well as to fund the centre’s infrastructure expansion.

According to DIFC’s chief financial officer (CFO), Rajesh Pareek, DIFC is not looking to raise any further sukuk in the immediate future.

“The money we have raised is sufficient for our immediate needs, in terms of the development,” he says.