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DIFC records best ever annual performance

Highest annual revenue and operating profit in its 17 years


Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC), the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region’s leading global financial center, has reported its best annual performance in history.

Against the backdrop of the worldwide pandemic, DIFC achieved its 2024 Strategy growth targets three years ahead of schedule during the first half of 2021. It recorded 996 company registrations in 2021, the highest ever in a single year and a 36% increase from 2020. The growth in company numbers is more than triple the average number across the past decade.

The total number of active registered firms operating in DIFC increased by 25% to 3,644 entities from 2,919 in 2020. A total of 1,124 financial and innovation-related entities are now active and operating within DIFC, increasing by 23%, versus 915 in 2020.

Revenue in 2021 increased by 16% to AED 897 million versus AED 774 million in 2020, and up by 7% from AED 838 million in 2019 (pre-pandemic levels). Operating profit for 2021 reached AED 573 million, an increase of 26% versus AED 457 million in 2020 and up by 13% compared to AED 510 million in 2019.

For the first time, total assets crossed AED 14.80 billion (USD 4 billion), which reflects the strong financial position of DIFC.

An additional 350,000 square feet of commercial space was leased across DIFC in 2021, versus 201,900 square feet in 2020, up by 73%.

Total banking assets booked in DIFC increased to USD 198.5 billion from USD 189.4 billion in 2020, up by 5%. This represents about 20% of consolidated UAE financial sector banking assets. An additional USD 108.1 billion of lending was arranged by DIFC firms, up from USD 64 billion in 2020, an increase of 69%. DIFC based wealth and asset management portfolio managers invested USD 151.4 billion in 2021 compared to USD 145.6 billion in 2020, up by 4%. Gross Written Premiums for the insurance sector reached USD 1.8 billion, rising from USD 1.7 billion in 2020, an increase of 8%.

Amongst its 3,644 entities, DIFC is home to 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, 25 of the world’s top 30 global systemically important banks, five of the top 10 insurance companies, five of the top 10 asset managers, and many leading global law and consulting firms.