Interview: Dubai’s DIFC CEO ‘optimistic’ about significant recovery in 2021

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Businesses embraced technology out of necessity during the global pandemic, which inspired firm decisions about issues companies had been considering for a while, according to Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority.

Interview: Dubai’s DIFC CEO ‘optimistic’ about significant recovery in 2021

Companies that support the future of finance will see continued growth in 2021, he says, meaning technology will play an increasingly crucial role.

This applies to Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) itself, which launched a digital onboarding platform for businesses wishing to register there, although that decision was based on ease of doing business.

“In line with the DIFC’s continued emphasis on improving the ease of doing business, the centre launched a seamless digital onboarding platform [in early 2020] to improve the ease of establishing businesses,” said Amiri.

He added that the platform simplifies the DIFC’s onboarding process and reduces the turnaround time to establish new companies.

In an interview with Zawya, Amiri offered a positive outlook on the prospects of the DIFC and Dubai for 2021. “I am optimistic about a significant recovery in the global economy and the financial sector overall,” he said. “During 2020, the DIFC provided and adapted its platform, which focused on being innovative, resilient, flexible and stable.”

He continued,

“We have created licences, laws and regulations that have enabled established firms as well as start-ups to reimagine their business models and seek new opportunities for success. We will see these come to the fore in 2021. 

The DIFC does not just focus on financial technology (fintech) but also about what it considers to be the ‘future of finance’ companies, Amiri said. The term “includes innovation companies embedding or enabling financial services in their business model. This extends to platform and ecosystem players, BigTech companies as well as cyber, AI, blockchain or digital identity firms. The future of finance sector is expected to continue growing well next year.”

Amiri highlighted the DIFC’s continued success: 310 new companies were registered in the first six months of the year, a 25 percent increase on 2019, taking the total registered in the centre to 2,584. He also said the centre would be working with Dubai FDI to attract more foreign direct investment (FDI) in the emirate in 2021. The first half of the year has seen AED 12 billion worth of FDI across 190 projects.

“Dubai and the DIFC will continue to differentiate ourselves as the region’s leading financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia,” he said. “Our approach to attracting more firms includes providing the best soft and hard infrastructure, such as laws, regulations, license options and premises options, depending on client needs. As companies join the region’s largest financial ecosystem, they work closely with other businesses, and collectively they undertake activities which develop the industry using our platform.”

The centre has also expanded its offering of partnerships with universities, he said.

“Through the DIFC Academy and our partnerships with leading universities around the world, we can retain this talent by providing professional and academic education. We have recently expanded our offering, which will make over 700 university courses available in the DIFC that focus on the future economy and finance learning; these programmes will prepare people to work in our industry as employees or setting up innovative fintech-related companies.”

Startups in general will also continue to be a focus for the DIFC, Amiri said. The centre’s fintech fund has already invested in five startups, which are now generating revenue: “We are looking for those who have unique ideas from businesses who have foresight and perhaps want to test a new solution that no one else has thought of.”

Reporting by Imogen Lillywhite

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Source : Zawya | Photocredit : Google

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