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DIFC discusses partnerships and new opportunities with the City of London

Friday, November 13, 2009
Opalesque Industry Updates - “Dubai and London are natural partners, they are the two main centres for Islamic Finance. Much of the success of the DIFC is due to the way it has been set up and is managed. It is to be congratulated on its achievements,” said The Rt. Hon. Lord Davies of Abersoch


The new realities of a changing global economic landscape and the post-crisis world offer a wealth of opportunities for partnership between the City of London and the markets of the GCC, according to H.E. Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, Governor of the DIFC and Vice Chairman of the UAE Central Bank.

“The long-standing links between the United Kingdom and the countries of the GCC will facilitate the many avenues of cooperation before us and will enable the development of strong partnerships to reap the benefits of the new global realities,” Dr Omar told a group of leading London bankers and financiers, including Lord Davies of Abersoch, the UK Minister for Trade, Investment and Business, and the Rt. Hon. Lord Falconer of Thoroton QC, former UK Lord Chancellor.

In his welcome address, Dr Omar added, “Our challenge is to identify how these new realities have changed the status quo and opened new windows of collaboration. Equally, we must understand what each side can best bring to the table, in light of how our world is evolving.”

Areas of cooperation that were discussed included: development of GCC debt markets and regional infrastructure financing more generally, further expansion of Islamic finance as an integral part of global capital markets, exploring development of an alternative investment market for the region and a regional payment system, financing sustainable energy and technology projects in the region, as well as looking into a local market for carbon credit trading, and banking and finance capacity building in the region.

Entitled, “The GCC and the City of London: Partnerships and Priorities for a Post-Crisis World”, the London conference gathered policy makers, business leaders and the banking and investment communities from both the City of London and the UAE.

In his address, The Rt. Hon. Lord Davies of Abersoch, the UK Minister for Trade, Investment and Business, thanked the DIFC for initiating the seminar and stressed the importance of such gatherings to ensure ongoing dialogue between DIFC and The City of London. “London and Dubai are natural partners. The two financial centres share a special bond. and with continued collaboration and cooperation, that bond can strengthen even more going forward,” said Lord Davies, adding “The UAE and UK trade in 2008 had exceeded £1.6billion, much of which has gone through DIFC.”

The Rt. Hon. Lord Charles Falconer of Thoroton QC delivered the Lunch Keynote address. In his comments, he said: “The DIFC has established itself within Dubai as a place where business can be done on the basis of highly skilled professional, well-regulated markets, reliable dispute resolution and effective enforcement. As the recession lifts Dubai and the DIFC are reasserting the strengths which made them successful. I am delighted to join the DIFC at their London conference where those strengths can be showcased"

Some of the key changes enriching potential avenues of cooperation between the City of London and the GCC include substantial GCC market and legal reforms begun over the past five years and which have helped the six countries of the Gulf successfully weather the economic crisis, a wide ranging economic diversification strategy that has seen the non-oil sector take an increasingly large role within the economy, and the increasing sophistication and experience of regulators, policymakers and central banks. As a result, the GCC is coming out of the global slowdown on a strong growth trajectory, with the IMF putting real GDP growth at 4.4% for 2010.

The DIFC delegation was led by H.E. Dr Omar Bin Sulaiman, and also included Abdulla Mohammed Al Awar, CEO of the DIFC Authority; Dr Nasser Saidi, Chief Economist of the DIFC Authority; Paul Koster, Chief Executive of the Dubai Financial Services Authority; and Mark Beer, Registrar of the DIFC Courts.

Sessions were held on business opportunities in the GCC, the opportunities provided by regulatory reform, the judicial system as a driver of growth, regional financial centres in the post-crisis world, regulatory change and legal and tax issues in the DIFC, as well as sessions on funds and asset management, Islamic finance, banking and brokerage, and family offices.


The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is an onshore hub for global finance. It bridges the time gap between the financial centres of Hong Kong and London and services a region with the largest untapped emerging market for financial services. In just five years, over 850 firms have registered at DIFC. They operate in an open environment complemented with world-class regulations and standards. DIFC offers its member institutions incentives such as 100 per cent foreign ownership, zero tax on income and profits and no restrictions on foreign exchange. In addition their business benefits from modern infrastructure, operational support and business continuity facilities of uncompromisingly high standards.


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