The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is focusing more on attracting businesses from growth and emerging markets as opposed to the more traditional developed markets of the West.

“There has definitely been a shift. Following the economic crisis, growth markets and emerging markets became important and we have embedded that in our strategy,” says Abdulla Mohammad al Awar, chief executive officer of the DIFC Authority. “We are active in South America, South Asia, East Asia, the Middle East & North Africa, these are the markets of the future.”

Following the economic crisis, growth markets and emerging markets became important and we have embedded that in our strategy

Abdulla Mohammad al Awar, DIFC Authority

For the first six months of this year, 44 per cent of the 65 new business applications to the DIFC were from the Middle East and Asia. Four years ago, these markets made up about 15 per cent of total applications. European and North American firms make up 50 per cent of all registered companies at the centre.

The DIFC is also aiming to become a global financial centre by encouraging current institutions to expand their reach beyond their core markets.

“Our vision is to become a global financial hub, we are encouraging institutions to make a hub out of the DIFC. We are in a strategic location between London and Hong Kong, we are beyond a regional hub, our aspirations now are at a global scale,” says Al-Awar.

There are currently 813 registered companies in the DIFC, most of which are in the banking, asset management and fund management sectors. According Al-Awar, the DIFC is working toward creating more of a balance between these sectors and to encourage the insurance and reinsurance sectors to increase their presence.