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May 2021

UAE: DIFC records 20% growth in annual registrations in 2020

Source: Middle East Insurance Review | Apr 2021

DIFC said it has reported the best performance in its 16-year history and the achievements contribute to all pillars of Dubai’s 2021 strategy, including raising the emirate’s status as a pivotal global economic hub and a smart and a sustainable city.
Reaffirming Dubai’s growing reputation across the global finance industry, the number of new firms operating in DIFC grew by 20% to 2,919. A total of 915 financial companies are now active in DIFC, up 24% from 735 in 2019. The number of businesses in the FinTech and innovation ecosystem more than doubled with 189 joining in 2020, taking the total to 303. This represents substantial progress on DIFC’s 2024 vision and strategy to drive the future of finance.
Notable financial services firms opening headquarters and regional offices in DIFC in 2020 included Africa Re, TATA Asset Management, Samba Financial Group and Caixabank. FinTechs included global and regional names such as Ebury, Ripple, Adyen, KoFax Me and Tabby.
The wide range of new clients further contributes to the breadth and depth of DIFC, underscoring the solid foundations that the centre has been built on. Business sectors across DIFC achieved exponential growth, including banking, capital markets, wealth and asset management, FinTech and professional services.
On the whole, the centre’s operating profit amounted to $125m, broadly consistent with the prior year despite global economic headwinds.
In 2020, total banking assets booked in DIFC increased 6% to $189bn. An additional $64bn of lending was also arranged by DIFC firms. DIFC-based wealth and asset management portfolio managers invested $203.5bn, up by 106% from $99bn in 2019, with the industry now worth $528.5bn. GWP for the insurance sector reached $1.7bn.
The importance of human capital
Throughout 2020, DIFC continued to attract and retain the best financial talent. The workforce increased by over 4% y-o-y, an impressive achievement amidst the global pandemic. A total of 1,135 new jobs were created by clients, taking the total to 26,773, representing 145 different nationalities.
Following the DIFC Employee Workplace Savings Plan (DEWS) roll-out in February 2020, which replaced the end-of-service-gratuity scheme, 19,182 DIFC employees from 1,187 employers have been enrolled in the scheme enabling individuals to plan their financial future.
DIFC has signed new partnerships with professional development entities, including the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants, the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment, and the International Compliance Association. It now has agreements with 30 leading educational institutions and government entities. M 
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