DIFC achieves record-breaking growth in 2022, driven by fintech, innovation

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) continued to grow at a record-breaking pace in 2022 with the number of active registered companies rising 20 per cent from 3,644 in 2021 to 4,377 in 2022.

New companies registered in DIFC in 2022 surpassed the annual milestone of 1,000 for the first time in the Centre’s history with 2022 seeing a total of 1,084 new firms.

The growth, which supports the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, further validates the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to make Dubai one of the world’s leading commercial and investment destinations.

The remarkable performance was driven by strategic plans aimed at advancing the scale and depth of value-generating innovation created by the DIFC community.

In 2022, DIFC’s combined revenue exceeded AED1 billion for the first time. The Centre recorded a revenue increase of 18 per cent year-on-year to reach AED1.06 billion from AED897 million in 2021. Operating profit for 2022 increased 19 per cent to AED679 million from AED573 million in 2021. Total assets crossed AED15.3 billion, reflecting DIFC’s strong financial position.

His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance and DIFC President, highlighted how the Centre’s performance demonstrates Dubai’s growing role as a major driver of innovation, entrepreneurship and next-generation technologies in the region’s financial sector.

“The Dubai International Financial Centre’s 2022 results also reflect the growing demand for a supportive ecosystem from global businesses looking to scale into emerging economies with high-growth financial services markets. With financial technology becoming a vital growth catalyst across sectors, the UAE’s ambitious initiatives to drive the future of finance will create immense opportunities and new economic growth not only in our region but also across the globe,” His Highness added.

In 2022, the Centre also recorded its best-ever performance in additional net commercial space leased with 809,000 sq. ft. leased in 2022, compared to 349,000 sq. ft. in 2021.

Total banking assets booked in DIFC were stable at US$199 billion. An additional US$166 billion of lending was also arranged by DIFC firms, up 54 percent. As a global hub for emerging market Wealth and Asset Management, DIFC portfolio managers invested US$164 billion in 2022 compared to US$151 billion in 2021.

Venture Capital raised increased to US$1.2 billion, up by 78 percent. Gross Written Premiums for the insurance sector reached US$2.1 billion, rising from US$1.8 billion in 2021.

DIFC is home to 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, 25 of the world’s top 30 systemically important global banks, five of the top 10 insurance companies, five of the top 10 asset managers and many leading global legal and consulting firms. The Centre leads MEASA in contributing to global industry development by being home to the largest clusters of banking and capital markets, fintech, insurance, wealth and asset management and professional services companies in the region. Strong growth has continued across business sectors, including banking, capital markets, wealth and asset management and professional services.

DIFC-based fintech and Innovation companies attracted over US$615 million in 2022. Fintech and Innovation became the fastest growing sector in DIFC with 291 new clients. A total of 686 Fintech and Innovation firms, ranging from start-ups to global unicorns, are now based in DIFC.

A total of 1,369 financial and innovation related entities are now active and operating within DIFC, up 22 percent from 2021, while 291 new fintech and innovation firms joined in 2022 taking the total to 686, an increase of 36 percent.

The number of Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)-regulated financial entities grew to 590 with 89 regulated financial service firms authorised in 2022, up from 51 in 2021.

Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, higlighted how the "UAE's globally recognised management of the pandemic, strategic investment and business-friendly structural reforms, long-term residency schemes, and innovation-friendly regulatory framework have helped draw entrepreneurial talent from every corner of the world".

He added that the focus in 2023 "will be to accelerate the future economy by building upon our already strong position as a preferred gateway for businesses looking to expand into and grow within the massive Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) market and attracting more investment into the UAE's financial sector".

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