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Dubai’s International Financial Centre—A Primer

If you’re planning on bringing your business to Dubai, you’ll undoubtedly be primarily interested in one of the many free zones dotted around the city. However, if you’re completely new to the region, it can be difficult to understand the landscape and what each zone has to offer. We’ve covered a few of the most popular free zones in a previous article, but today, we’re going to begin a series of articles looking at some of these key areas in greater detail. 

Our first stop—the Dubai International Financial Centre.


The Dubai International Financial Centre—DIFC for short—has established itself as the financial hub of the Middle East and South Asia. Established in 2004, the DIFC stands out as one of the most unique, preeminent free zones, and it has the clout to back it up. Acting as home to a variety of financial institutions, wealth funds and investment firms alike, the DIFC is where businesses with money on the mind should look to find a new home. 

One major advantage is that, unlike many other free zones, the Dubai International Financial Centre is completely independent. Business owners from abroad can call the area home without the need for a local partner, making incorporation a much simpler process. 


There are many things that make the Dubai International Financial Centre an attractive destination for foreign-owned businesses. Namely, it offers:


·      Independent judicial systems based on common law

·      Guarantees of no income tax on profits

·      A privately held financial exchange

·      A variety of retail locations including restaurants and cafes

·      A strong cultural focus that includes art galleries


Offering a unique blend of fun and focus for foreign-owned companies looking to make the region their home, it’s easy to see why the DIFC has become so incredibly large, popular and powerful since its establishment. 


Given the significant role that it plays in the economy of the region, the Dubai International Financial Centre, without question, has a bright future ahead. However, businesses interested in moving to the region should know that there’s no plans for the free zone to rest on its laurels. In fact, the DIFC has identified FinTech as an industry that presents impressive growth opportunities, and has spent the last few years investing heavily into it. 

The appropriately named DIFC FinTech Hive not only has accelerated the adoption of technologies across the region, but also has launched a startup program that serves to help up-and-coming businesses native to the region grow. This means that there presents significant potential for the growth of the technology sector in the free zone as well. 

Bringing your business to a new market is hard, especially when it involves coming to a new market such as Dubai, where the economic landscape is so incredibly different than you might otherwise be used to. With varying regulations and requirements across the various free zones, it’s important that you know what you’re getting into prior to the move. 

In this article, we’ve explored a little bit about what makes the DIFC tick to help you learn more about whether it might be a suitable home for your business. Keep an eye out for future installments of this series where we’ll continue to look at the free zones in Dubai that are both making waves today and poised for significant growth tomorrow. 


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