The Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) announced exceptional growth in 2023, with a record-breaking 117 firms licenced and registered, marking a 25 percent increase from the previous year. The growth in licencing was witnessed in various segments of the financial services sector.

The DFSA noted a remarkable increase in Asset Managers and Hedge Fund Managers establishing presence in the DIFC, with the latter registering 125 percent year-on-year growth. Furthermore, as of November 2023 Nasdaq Dubai, the DIFC’s exchange, holds the world’s largest listed ESG sukuk market valued at $27bn - this includes more than 60 percent of US-denominated ESG sukuk. Nasdaq Dubai continues to be the world’s second-largest venue for listed sukuk market.

Fadel Al Ali, Chairman of the DFSA, said, “The remarkable achievements of 2023 are a testament to our dedication to not only regulate the present but to also shape and govern the future. Our aim is to become a global benchmark as an international regulatory body, delivering excellence in tandem with the government's strategic vision – including Dubai Economic Agenda D33.”

As well as growth in licenced firms, this period also saw an increase in relationship-building for the DFSA who made significant strides in strengthening ties with local and international regulatory bodies and partners. The DFSA signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the UAE’s Financial Intelligence Unit, enhancing collaboration on anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorism. The DFSA also formed a partnership with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority aimed at exploring how to further develop policy and regulatory responses to support and enable climate finance in the Middle East and Asia. The flagship initiative of this partnership is the upcoming Joint Climate Finance Conference, set to take place in Hong Kong this autumn.

Underscoring its commitment to accelerating the development of sustainable capital markets in the DIFC, the DFSA announced, during COP28’s Finance Day, a regulatory fee waiver for issuers wishing to list sustainability-related debt securities in the DIFC throughout 2024.

“As we set our sights higher for 2024, we aim to stand firm on our four strategic pillars – Delivery, Engagement, Innovation, and Sustainability. These pillars are the foundation of our pursuit to not merely meet standards but to set them, ensuring stability, innovation, and progress in the financial landscape,” Al Ali concluded.