This research on the impact of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) on Dubai’s financial industry and the wider Middle East region was prepared by GBO, a reputable Dubai IFZA agent of company formation.



GBO acts as an authorized agent for businesses seeking to form a company in Dubai, offering comprehensive support in navigating the process of company formation. This includes assistance in opening bank accounts, managing tax obligations, and meeting all the necessary requirements for operating an offshore business.

In this research, we will explore the history, roles, and current status of the DIFC and DFSA, as well as their contributions to Dubai’s economy and the wider region. We will also examine their impact on the growth of the financial industry in Dubai, including the attraction of foreign investment and the development of new financial products and services. The insights provided in this research will be valuable to investors and financial professionals seeking to understand the role of the DIFC and DFSA in the Middle East’s financial landscape.


Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a prominent financial hub in Dubai, United Arab Emirates (UAE). It was founded in 2004 with the intention of establishing a world-class financial center in the Middle East that would serve as a gateway to the region’s rapidly expanding economies.



Dubai’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, recognized the need to diversify Dubai’s economy and create new sources of growth, which led to the establishment of the DIFC. The DIFC was designed to provide a platform for international financial institutions to access the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region. It was modeled after leading financial centers like London, New York, and Hong Kong.



The DIFC’s primary functions are to foster economic growth, create a business-friendly environment, and establish a world-class financial center in the Middle East. It accomplishes this by providing a platform for financial institutions to access the region’s rapidly expanding economies, fostering the growth of a robust and stable financial services industry, and promoting investor protection and market integrity.


The DIFC is home to several financial institutions, such as banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and securities firms. In addition, it has a regulatory framework that is consistent with international best practices and standards, as well as a legal system that is independent and based on English common law.


Additionally, the DIFC is home to a variety of support services, such as legal and accounting firms, IT and communications providers, and employment agencies. Its world-class hotels, restaurants, and shopping malls make it an attractive location for businesses and professionals.



The DIFC employs over 25,000 individuals from over 100 countries, making it a truly international financial and business center. The majority of the workforce consists of highly skilled professionals, such as bankers, lawyers, accountants, and IT experts.



Since its inception, the DIFC has experienced rapid expansion, with the number of registered firms increasing from 15 in 2004 to over 2,500 in 2021. It has also become a significant contributor to Dubai’s economy, contributing over AED 19 billion in total in 2020. The DIFC has also received numerous awards and accolades for its world-class infrastructure and services. The Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI) ranks it as the eighth most competitive financial center in the world, and Global Investor Magazine has named it the “Best International Financial Centre” for five consecutive years.


The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the independent regulator of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). As part of the DIFC’s regulatory framework, it was established in 2004 with the intention of establishing a regulatory environment consistent with international best practices.


The DFSA is responsible for the regulation and supervision of all financial services institutions operating within the DIFC, including banks, asset managers, insurance companies, and securities firms. It is responsible for registering and licensing financial services providers, enforcing regulatory rules, and promoting investor protection and market integrity.


Among the DFSA’s primary objectives are promoting a regulatory environment consistent with international best practices and standards, protecting investors and promoting market integrity by enforcing regulatory rules, supporting the development of a strong and stable financial services industry in the DIFC, and contributing to the overall economic growth and development of Dubai and the UAE.


The DFSA has an impressive history of regulation and enforcement. It has taken a number of steps to ensure that financial institutions operating within the DIFC are well-regulated and in compliance with regulatory requirements. DFSA has also undertaken




Can one easily set up a company in a Dubai free zone?

Dubai has simplified the process of forming a freezone company. However, the steps and requirements for setting up a company in Dubai’s free zones vary by free zone, business type, and business owner’s nationality. For a successful Dubai freezone company setup, consult a reputable business setup consultancy like GBO.


Who owns Dubai International Financial Centre Authority?

The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) belongs to the Dubai government. The government of Dubai also owns the DIFC Authority, which is responsible for the operation and management of the center.


What is DIFC known for?

The DIFC is a prominent financial center in the Middle East, providing businesses with a gateway to the region’s rapidly expanding economies. It is also well-known for its business-friendly environment, regulatory framework based on international best practices, and independent court system.


Which companies are in DIFC?

The DIFC is home to more than 2,500 businesses, including prominent financial institutions, law firms, accounting firms, and other professional services firms. The DIFC is home to HSBC, Citigroup, Deutsche Bank, Goldman Sachs, and Standard Chartered, among others.


Is DIFC a tax free zone?

The DIFC is a tax-free zone, yes. Companies operating within the DIFC are exempt from the vast majority of taxes, including the corporate income tax, the individual income tax, and the withholding tax. However, businesses may be subject to additional fees and costs, such as annual license fees and registration fees.


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