Sheikh Mohammed revises DIFC founding law; Expands strategic objectives

By Amirtha P S, Desk Reporter
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His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, passed a new law that broadens the scope of responsibilities for Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the emirate’s financial free zone.

The new regulation replaces the laws put in place when the DIFC was established in 2004 and gives more clarity on duties and responsibilities of the President, the Governor, the center and bodies within itself.

The law will also ensure DIFC’s operational, financial and administrative independence that is significant for the continued growth and success of the center and confirms the requirements for their adherence to the highest governance and accountability principles.

The DIFC is ranked as the biggest financial hub in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region and the 19th biggest globally, according to the Global Financial Centres Index ranking published in March.

It registered a 20 percent increase in the number of companies last year, bringing the total number of businesses operating in the center to 2,919 and 915 of which are financial entities.

The new law expands the strategic objectives for DIFC which aims to further boost Dubai’s position as a global hub for financial services and promote the values of efficiency, transparency and integrity and it includes advancing sustainable economic growth for the emirate by increasing the gross domestic product contribution of the financial sector, promoting inward investment and attracting regional and international entities into the center to operate their principal place of business.

The law also gives clarity on what DIFC establishments may do outside their physical premises in the center, confirming they can supply products and services outside the free zone as long as they are primarily provided from within it. Marketing and promotion of their activities can be conducted outside the center.

Under the new law, the Dispute Resolution Authority that existed under the previous regulation will operate as two separate bodies in the form of the DIFC Courts and the Arbitration Institute. This will allow each body maximum opportunity for growth and proper allocation of resources in respect of their separate mandates.

The new law also allows the DIFC President to exempt certain federal and local government authorities, companies and other entities from the application of any DIFC laws or regulations applying to them when present in the center in which case only UAE federal and local laws will apply to them.

Related: DIFC teams up with MENA FinTech Association to develop innovation forum