The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has split into two arms, one focusing on developing its reputation as a regional finance hub, the other on managing its real estate.

The shake-up is intended to help drive growth in the number of firms active in the centre and increase the number of people working in the DIFC to 25,000, from about 13,000 people now.

Such a huge influx of people will be necessary if the DIFC is to fill vacant space. After opening about 1 million square feet of new office space in late 2011 from three privately owned buildings, occupancy at third-party property owned in the DIFC fell to about 30 per cent, although in the core DIFC-owned space occupancy is about 95 per cent.

Under the new structure, Jeff Singer, former head of the Nasdaq Dubai, is chief executive officer (CEO) of the operational and promotional arm, the DIFC Authority, while Nabil Ramadhan is acting CEO of DIFC Properties, and is in charge of the infrastructure and real estate of the financial centre.

Last month, the DIFC said its contribution to the economy of Dubai grew by 7 per cent in 2011.