Dubai Financial Services Authority sees 40% surge in new license registrations, CEO reveals

Dubai Financial Services Authority sees 40% surge in new license registrations, CEO reveals
Dubai Financial Services Authority sees 40% surge in new license registrations, CEO reveals

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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Dubai Financial Services Authority sees 40% surge in new license registrations, CEO reveals

RIYADH: New license registrations through the Dubai Financial Services Authority increased by 40 percent in the first months of this year compared to the same period in 2023.

The organization’s CEO, Ian Johnston, confirmed the issuance growth to the Emirates News Agency on the sidelines of the 2nd edition of the Dubai Financial Technology Summit.

Johnston stated that 2024 is poised to be the most dynamic year yet for new license issuances, building on the momentum achieved in the past two years.

He added that this period will witness an abundance of new licensing activities, encompassing startups in the financial technology sector, as well as major corporations and international banks continuing to converge toward the Dubai International Financial Centre. 

DIFC, a hub in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region, connects the area’s fast-growing markets with global economies and offers dining, retail, and living amenities, according to its website.

The CEO anticipated receiving over 100 applications from companies, with between 130 and 140 new businesses slated for licensing in the DIFC, reflecting the pace of growth, according to WAM. 

He emphasized that the base serves as the primary international financial destination in the region, contributing to Dubai’s strategy to enhance its position as a global financial center in the Middle East. 

He stated: “We are not only witnessing an increase in the number of companies we license, but also witnessing the success of these companies in the DIFC, facilitating individuals in conducting their business, as well as facilitating the conclusion of deals.”

Johnston emphasized Nasdaq’s role in Dubai’s global bond and sukuk listing hub, noting it as the world’s largest sustainable sukuk market, with over 60 percent in US dollars tied to environmental, social, and governance criteria, and around 50 percent across all currencies linked to governance and social responsibility.

He noted that Nasdaq Dubai has become the leading venue for listing environmental, social, and governance sukuk, demonstrating the increasing interest in sustainable investments and Nasdaq Dubai’s position as a preferred platform for such issuances. 

Johnston anticipated that the DIFC would continue to experience further growth and activity in the current year, owing to Dubai’s established status as a regional financial center, highlighting that the center accommodates over 40,000 professionals, in addition to those working in finance outside the center.

The CEO indicated that Dubai is poised to emerge as one of the top four to five global financial centers in the coming years, stating: “We are already working toward achieving that as soon as possible.” 

He stressed the Dubai Financial Services Authority’s goal to promote innovation by backing the fintech sector within regulations. This aligns with companies’ move toward regulatory compliance and proactive adoption of guidelines for stability and sustainable growth.

The authority had announced earlier in January that it had an exceptional growth year in 2023, saying in a press release: “The region’s leading regulator licensed and registered a record-breaking 117 firms during the 12-month period, an increase of 25 percent from the previous year.” 

Johnston explained that regarding rules and governance, one of the positive developments occurring now is that financial technology operators are beginning to understand the regulatory process, and the task as regulators is to ensure that they impose directives to protect investors.

DIFC had recorded its highest gross written premiums in its 20-year history, amounting to $2.6 billion in 2023, marking a 23 percent increase from the previous year. 

The center also recorded a 20 percent rise in the registration of insurance and reinsurance firms, including the first move of a Guernsey-based captive.

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