Ian Johnston, CEO of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA), expects further growth and activity this year, following the strong performance achieved in 2023.
“2023 was the DFSA’s busiest year in terms of the number of new licenses issued, with over 100 new financial services businesses, surpassing 2022.”
He DFSA achieved exceptional growth last year, licensing and registering a record number of companies during 2023, a 25 percent increase over 2022, bringing the total number of licensed companies to 791.
“As the regulator of the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), it is very important for us that the center continues to grow and expand, especially since its work is not limited to attracting more businesses, but there is more work done by the registered financial institutions over there”,
“We have 27 of the 29 global systemically important banks headquartered in the DIFC, as well as most major fund managers and most insurance and reinsurance companies,”
He DFSA CEO noted a significant increase in interest from hedge funds to be present in Dubai amid the rapid growth of the sector, noting that many hedge funds and other funds around the world are moving to the DIFC.
During the past year, the DFSA recorded a 125 percent year-on-year increase in the number of asset managers and hedge funds established in the DIFC.
Ian Johnston highlighted the impressive growth of the DIFC as a leading financial centre. He stated that the DIFC has surpassed its regional competitors to become the largest financial center in the Middle East and a leading global player.
Currently, more than 600 financial services companies operate within the DIFC, employing more than 40,000 people and contributing significantly to the UAE economy, he added.
Focusing on Nasdaq Dubaii, the DIFC stock exchange, Johnston highlighted its emergence as the world’s leading Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Sukuk market, as the percentage of US dollar-denominated ESG-related Sukuk listed on Nasdaq Dubai reached more than 60 percent, and almost 40 percent of Sukuk related to ESG. Sukuks in other currencies. He explained that the volume of these Sukuk reached 27 billion dollars.
This achievement reinforces DIFC’s commitment to sustainable finance. Furthermore, the total value of debt securities listed on Nasdaq Dubai has reached a staggering $129.4 billion, of which Sukuk accounts for $71.6 billion, while conventional bonds reached $30.8 billion, which highlights the depth and liquidity of the DIFC capital markets.
Johnston He further emphasized the crucial role of Chinese banks in sukuk listings on Nasdaq Dubai, underscoring the strong ties between the UAE and China in the financial sector. He specifically mentioned major banks such as the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China that carry out significant sukuk issuances on the exchange.
Beyond traditional finance, Johnston He also highlighted the DFSA’s interest in exploring new technologies within the financial sector. Dubai is actively positioning itself as a major digital asset hub and this strategic approach is expected to attract more investment and innovation to the DIFC.
Johnston He highlighted the close cooperation between the DFSA and the regulatory authorities of China and Hong Kong, reflecting the strong ties between the UAE and these countries in the financial sector. He mentioned that the DFSA works closely with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA) and the Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission, and that they jointly organize some activities.
Johnston also announced that the DFSAin collaboration with the AMHKwill host a joint climate finance conference in Hong Kong this year and Dubai next year.
He DFSA and the AMHK They have collaborated in a number of areas, including promoting and supporting innovation in their respective markets. In December 2017, both parties signed a cooperation agreement in the field of financial innovation.
News source: Emirates News Agency