(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The Dubai International Financial Centre, or DIFC, the onshore financial hub of the region, on Monday said the net total of active registered companies operating in the centre grew six per cent to 899 in the first half of this year as compared to 848 in the same 2011 period.
The active registered companies include 329 regulated, 465 non-regulated companies, and 105 retailers compared to 322 regulated, 423 non-regulated, and 103 retailers in the first half of 2011. The number of employees working in DIFC stands at around 13,000.
The centre said 90 commercial licences were issued in the first half compared to 64 licences in the same 2011 period, a year-on-year increase of 41 per cent.
Figures from the DIFC Authority, the free zone's operating body show that occupancy of DIFC-owned commercial offices in the Gate District increased to 98 per cent of the leasable space. In 2011 first half the occupancy was 95 per cent.
Occupancy in DIFC-owned retail space remained consistent at 96 per cent while commercial office space within third-party developments under DIFC's management is 86 per cent occupied, compared to 72 per cent occupancy at year end 2011.
Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, chairman of the board of directors of DIFC Authority, said the strong principles on which DIFC is founded - effective regulation and a dynamic business environment - position DIFC well to continue its development as a world financial centre.
"There are promising opportunities for significant expansion of DIFC both in terms of the number of companies operating here and the range of activities in which they are engaged," he said.
In July, in its fifth annual Economic Activity Survey Report, DIFC put the total value added (GDP equivalent) of the centre's sub-economy in 2011 at 3.13 billion, up seven per cent from 2.92 billion in 2010. DIFC's contribution to the UAE's non-hydrocarbon GDP as estimated by the IMF rose 1.4 per cent.
In July, in a major shakeup, DIFC segregated into two independent entities - DIFCA and DIFC Properties which will manage its real estate portfolio.
As part of the reorganisation, Jeff Singer, the former chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai, was appointed CEO of the DIFC Authority. Under the reorganisation, DIFC Authority will oversee the strategic development, operational management and administration of DIFC.
DIFC Properties will oversee the property development of the DIFC free zone, of which roughly 40 per cent remains to be constructed, and its supporting infrastructure.
The DIFC Authority said in its statement that interest from North America and Europe continued to increase as western multinationals look to diversify their operations and expand towards the East. DIFC also witnessed sustained interest from Middle Eastern and Asian firms looking to increase their exposure to opportunities arising in Africa and the West.
Today, the geographical diversity of the Centre's total number of regulated companies reaffirms DIFC's growing status as a global financial centre.
Figures show that 36 per cent of regulated member companies come from Europe, 26 per cent from the Middle East, 16 per cent from North America, 11 per cent from Asia, and 11 per cent from the rest of the world. In the first six months of this year, the Property Lease Management Agreement, or PLMA, between DIFC and a number of units in Liberty House expired.
As such, third party owned office space managed by DIFC under the PLMA now includes the Currency House, Currency Tower and some units in Liberty House with a total area of 531,659 square feet. These are 86 per cent occupied, the Centre said.
"Office space in third party owned office space not managed by DIFC remains available and includes the Index Tower, Park Towers and Emirates Financial Towers as well as a number of units in Liberty House. The total space occupied in these buildings stands at around 349,407 sq ft though occupancy rates for the total space available in these developments are not available to DIFC," the statement said.