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Dubai International Financial Center DIFC

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Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC)

Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) information and guide. Companies, banks, investment banks, facilities, restaurants, cafes, art and other exhibitions.

  • As of August 2010, DIFC has 745 registered companies of which 297 are regulated and 374 are not, and 74 retail outlets, with 67 new companies registered in 2010 (so far).
  • DIFC includes the DIFC Gate District with the DIFC Courts, DIFC Gate Building, DIFC Gate Precinct, and DIFC Gate Village.
  • Other buildings in the DIFC area or zone include Currency House, Currency Tower, Liberty House.
  • From end 2010 and into 2011, DIFC plans to open more dining outlets, grocery stores, and art galleries.
DIFC cafes and restaurants
  • 1762 delicatessen - Gourmet Deli (opening April 2011?) (website www.appetite.ae and www.1762.ae).
  • Beef Bar - planned with an opening date in 2011.
  • Cafe Barbera - open 7 days.
  • Caffe Nero - opening date September 2010, open 0600-2000 seven days.
  • Caribou Coffee - open 7 days?
  • Costa Coffee - open 7 days.
  • Gloria Jean's Coffee - opening date October 2010.
  • Gourmet Burger Kitchen (GBK).
  • Hediard - closed September 2010, Gloria Jean's opening in its place.
  • Le Bon Pain - closed Fridays. Closed - new steak restaurant opened in its place Nov 2013?
  • More Cafe - open early 2011?
  • Potbelly sandwiches.
  • Starbucks - opening times 0700-2200 Sunday-Thursday, 0930-1730 Fridays and Saturdays (Saturday opening started early 2011?).
  • Subway - open 24/7 all year (including Ramadan).
  • The Gramercy - bar and restaurant, open 1200-2400 (except Friday - closed 2200), no alcohol until after Iftar during Ramadan.
  • The Dome Cafe - open 7 days.

During Ramadan, most or all food and drink outlets in DIFC are open during the day behind curtains. Some might be closed on Friday and/or Saturday when they would normally be open.

DIFC retail stores and outlets
  • Borders bookshop (closed 2012?).
  • Choithram's supermarket (opening mid-2011 ... delayed to end Nov 2013).
  • Desco Copy Centre and printing (opening mid-2011?).
  • Du service stand or kiosk - ground floor, not for public or retail customers, restricted to DIFC business customers only?
  • Etisalat customer outlet (closed Fridays).
DIFC The Gate building
DIFC The Gate Village
  • The Gate Village at DIFC is a collection of art gallery shops and a couple of cafes. Regular art exhibitions are held.
  • XVA Gallery moved from Bastakiya to DIFC 25 Jan 2011 ... and back to Bastakia 14 Nov 2013. Gate Village building 7. Opening hours Sunday-Thursday 1000-2000, Saturday 1200-1800, Friday closed. Tel +971-4-3535383, website www.xvagallery.com. Hotel and cafe still operating in Bastakia?
DIFC Art Exhibitions
  • Between The Lines - exhibition at XVA Gallery from 25 January to 26 February 2011.
  • The Story of Islamic Art in 99 Objects - from The Farjam Collection, history of the Islamic world with rare Islamic art pieces on display including manuscripts, textiles, ceramics, glassware. Curated by art students from Zayed University. Supported by The Hafiz Foundation and National Auto Company. Dates from 15 August 2010 to end of Ramadan 2010. Opening times 1000-1800 Sunday to Thursday, closed Friday, 1200-1800 Saturday. Admission free.
DIFC parking
  • Covered visitor car park available, free for first hour, 20 dirhams per hour after that. Free after 1800 (6pm), and all day on Friday and Saturday. Not free on public holidays though.
DIFC organisations
  • DIFC Courts
  • DIFC Investments
  • Nasdaq Dubai stock market (previously called the Dubai International Financial Exchange).
DIFC rents and rent increases
  • Conflicting information provided in Dec 2013 about whether or not the Dubai rent cap applies in the DIFC area. The National reported no it does not, WAM and 7 Days reported yes it does. In Feb 2014, Emirates 24-7 also said there is a rent cap but it wasn't clear if it was the RERA one, or a reference to an internal cap reported in Oct 2013.
  • 18 Dec 2013 - new decree issued regarding rent caps in Dubai, which specifically included DIFC as coming under the rent cap laws: "Decree No (43) for 2013 regarding the Determination of the Increase in Rent for Properties in the Emirate of Dubai" ... "This Decree shall be applicable on public and private landlords in the Emirate of Dubai, including private development zones and free zones, including Dubai International Financial Center."
  • 24 Oct 2013 - DIFC rents are not increasing according to Brett Schafer, CEO of DIFC Properties, who said "We haven’t increased the rents in DIFC for the past three years. We are not going to increase the rentals right now as we don’t see rents going up in other areas that we compete with" (Emirates 24-7 - No rent hike in this Dubai free zone). Presumably he is referring to commercial and retail rents, since he already said a few weeks previously that Dubai rent law didn't apply in the DIFC and landlords were free to increase residential property rents as much as they liked, depending on what the terms of the contract signed with the tenant are. Property rents in other areas of Dubai have been increasing, sometimes substantially, during 2013.
  • 02-03 Sep 2013 - confusing comments from the CEO of DIFC Properties, Brett Schafer, reported by Emirates 24-7, about residential rent laws in the DIFC free zone.
    • He says the landlord-tenant law in Dubai (Dubai Law No 26 of 2007) "is not intended to apply within DIFC."
    • But also says in the case of dispute, the parties can choose which law and court will hear their case - "Parties, however, are free to choose the governing law and the forum they deem appropriate for resolving disputes relating to their leases within DIFC jurisdiction." Or they can't - he also says "It [the jurisdiction] may also arise through the DIFC Courts’ statutory jurisdiction over such matters."
    • He didn't clarify, or at least it wasn't reported, how to resolve a situation when there is a dispute over which law will apply and which court to take it to.
    • No comment reported from the Dubai Municipality Rent Committee about whether or not they have jurisdiction over cases involving properties in DIFC.
    • Another story in the same paper the next day said the rent cap didn't apply in the DIFC because DIFC law "... means that parties are free to agree with certainty in their leases as to how they choose to deal with lease renewals, rent reviews and other issues that may arise in the landlord-tenant relationship," according to Brett Schafer. Which sounds like he is saying the DIFC doesn't have its own rent cap law, and so if your contract doesn't include a clause about rent increases then landlords are free to increase rents as they like. And even though he said you can complain to the Dubai Rent Committee (if the landlord agrees you can go there), it sounds pointless to us since he also said Dubai Rent Law doesn't apply in the DIFC zone.
  • Dec 2010 - DIFC announced new rental structure for office areas of AED 180-260 per sq foot, to apply from January 2011?
DIFC number of companies, leasing data and statistics

Information from press release 31 August 2010

  • Total office space available - 2,116,311 square feet (includes space supplied by third party developers).
  • DIFC Gate District office space 1,471,625 sq ft with an additional 170,000 sq ft available later in 2010.
  • Occupancy rate of DIFC Gate District is 92%.
  • 40% of DIFC regulated firms from MEASA, 42% from Europe, 18% from US and rest of the world.
  • Addition of 308,687 sq ft of commercial office space from December 2009 to July 2010.
DIFC new companies in 2010
  • CB Richard Ellis Investors (CBRE Investors) - office opening announced 28 September 2010 (press release). Managing Director of UAE office at DIFC is Fadi Al Khatib.
  • Exotix - a London-based frontier markets investment banking boutique, announced 01 September 2010. Exotix offices in Buenos Aires, London, New York, Tokyo. Exotix Head of Operations is Robert Elliot. Opening date not supplied.
  • Oryx Capital (OC) private investment banking received a license from the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) to operate in the DIFC. Managing Director and CEO is Mohamed Hadi Mejai (press release 12 October 2010).
DIFC operations, finances, and debt
  • A document filed with the DIFC Courts claimed that DIFC needed $1.2 billion in November 2008 or ran the risk of closure and default on debts.
  • The memo, dated 15 November 2008 and headed "Debt Situation" was filed as part of a case involving a claim for AED 1.78 million in unpaid wages by Bisher Barazi, head of DIFC Investments at the time. DIFC Investments countersued, claiming that bonuses worth $4.8m proposed by Mr Barazi for him and 2 others for 2007 financial year were unlawful.
  • The memo said "The bottom line, we need $500 million by the end of November, $200m by the first week of December and $500m before the end of December so that we can sustain our basic business if we do not get immediate support, the entire operations will come to a halt, not withstanding us defaulting on our commitments"
  • The memo was written by Mr Barazi and addressed to Omar Bin Sulaiman, DIFC Governor at the time. Both Mr Barazai and Mr Sulaiman had their positions at DIFC Investments terminated in late 2009.

Reference: The National 30 August 2010.

DIFC personnel
  • 22 Sep 2013 (announcement, WAM) - Essa Abdulfattah Kazim will become Governor of the DIFC from 01 Jan 2014, replacing the current Governor, Abdullah Mohammed Saleh. Mr Kazim is also CEO of Borse Dubai (DFM holding company) and the Nasdaq Dubai.
  • 27 Aug 2011 (reported) - new chairman of DIFC is Sheikh Maktoum Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum.
  • 27 Aug 2011 (reported) - new board of DIFC appointed.
  • Governor of the DIFC is Ahmed Humaid Al Tayer (up to August 2011?).
  • CEO of DIFC Authority is Abdulla Al Awar (up to August 2011?).
DIFC contact details and location
  • Dubai Metro station at Emirates Towers is closer to DIFC than the Financial Center station.
Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA)
  • 31 July 2012 - Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) will split into two entities - DIFC Authority for business development and legislation, and DIFC Properties to manage the DIFC real estate portfolio. DIFC Authority head will be Jeff Singer (previously chief executive of Nasdaq Dubai), DIFC Properties acting chief executive will be Nabil Ramadhan. DIFC Authority current chief executive Abdulla Al Awar becomes an advisor to the Board of Directors. Hamed Ali will become chief operating officer of Nasdaq Dubai.
  • Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (DIFCA) chief executive is Abdulla Al Awar. Chairman of the DIFCA board is Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair (appointed April 2012).
Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA)
  • The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) is the financial regulator of the DIFC.
  • Chairman of the DFSA is Saeb Eigner (press release Wednesday 07 September 2011). Previous chairman was Abdullah Saleh (appointed in 2007).
  • Chief Executive of the DFSA is Mr Paul Koster
Last update Wednesday 05-Aug-2015. Page development 1H 2T 3D 4L 5C.
Related pages
Related websites (new window)
  • www.difc.ae - Dubai International Financial Centre website

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