Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is in talks with financial institutions from several Asian countries and expects about 10 Indian and Chinese lenders to set up offices in Dubai’s onshore financial hub within the next 12 months.

“In the next rolling 12 months, it’s fewer than 10 [Indian and Chinese] banks. We are talking short term here,” Salmaan Jaffery, the head of businesses development at DIFC authority said of the number of lenders coming to the DIFC at a media briefing in Dubai. There will be more clarity towards the end of this year, he added.

DIFC, one of the top financial hubs in the region, counts most of the global banks, including those from India and China, among its list of registered financial institutions. “We are seeing continuous interest from the Indian and Chinese banks….. so that growth story continues,” Jaffery said.

Although China has been a strategically important for the DIFC, India is the big opportunity for the future. “It is one of those markets, which has significant opportunities in all of our segments – banking, capital markets and insurance etc.,” he explained.

The banks and financial institutions from Japan and South Korea are also looking at DIFC as the possible destination for international expansion, however, it is a bit too early to say how many of them will join DIFC in the short term, Jaffery said.

Japan’s Bank of Toko-Mitsubishi, Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Nomura and South Korea’s Shinhan Bank and Woori Bank have all been present in DIFC for a few years.

Japan, he said, for the first time in 20 years is entering an era of moderate growth and the banks hunting for yields are looking at various options abroad.

“There is interest from these banks to expand and they are very receptive to conversations [with DIFC],” he said, adding that the financial hub, from its side is continuously trying to improve its product offerings, regulations and infrastructure to attract more institutions.

DIFC, which is competing for businesses with the financial hubs in Bahrain, Qatar and neighbouring Abu Dhabi, has allocated AED800m ($218m) to complete the construction of an office building and the retail complex.

DIFC is spending AED200m to finish Gate Village 11 to add much needed office space as the financial centre is currently operating at 98 per cent occupancy in its own portfolio of the properties. For the retail project called Gate Avenue, DIFC authority has earmarked AED600m, DIFC governor, Essa Kazim said in February.