Dubai’s onshore financial hub, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), has allocated AED800m ($218m) to complete the construction of its ongoing office building and a retail complex projects.

DIFC is spending AED200m to finish Gate Village 11, which will add much needed office space to fast growing financial centre while AED600m have been earmarked for the Gate Avenue project, DIFC governor, Essa Kazim told a press conference.

DIFC, which currently has a cash position of AED1.2bn, will fund both projects from its balance sheet. “There is no need to issue debt,” Kazim said.

The DIFC as a business has recorded a net profit of AED421m, while its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization stood at AED460m, according to Kazim.

DIFC, which is currently operating at 98 per cent occupancy in its own portfolio of the properties, is adding Gate Village 11 that will give it an addition 175,000 square feet of net leasable area. The third party properties owned by private developers, are currently operating at 60 per cent occupancy, Kazim said.

The financial hub, which presently has 3.5 million square feet of occupied space aims to increase the number to 5.5 million square feet by 2024.

“Our investment plan is there and the focus is on building the core operations,” he said.

DIFC awarded the local/Australian Habtoor Leighton Group the contract to build the Gate Avenue development. The 61,000-square-metre 880-metre long retail centre will connect existing buildings at DIFC, as well as future developments. There will be 150 retail outlets in the centre, which was previously known as the Retail Spine, and the first phase of the project is expected to be completed by end of this year,

MEED earlier reported that DIFC has appointed US-based Turner as the project manager for the retail project. DIFC

Last year was a relatively slower year for DIFC. There was 14 per cent growth in the number of new companies registered. The financial hub had reported a record 27 per cent increase in 2015.

The total number of active entities within the DIFC has reached 1,648 out which 447 companies are from the financial services sector. The number of non-financial sector firms grew by 17 per cent last year to 976, while retailers within the financial hub grew by 12 per cent, putting DIFC on path to execute its 2024 strategy of tripling the size of its core clients.

The size of the total workforce employed within the DIFC has also increased to 21,611 at the end of last year, up from 19,808 recorded at the end of 2015.

The financial hub aims to bring more companies from South-South trade corridor, especially, from India and China, Kazim said adding that the number of new firm from Asia has grown by 60 per cent last year and if the pace continued in the next few years, companies with Asian origin could out outnumber those from the US, Europe and the UK.