Unleashing Growth: DIFC Emerges as Premier Global Hub for Family Businesses

  • More than 440 registered foundations and over 600 active entities affiliated with top family businesses and individuals in DIFC as of 2023.
  • Home to more than 120 of the world’s wealthiest families and individuals, with a total net worth exceeding USD 1trn.
  • Dubai ranked 1st in MEASA region and among the world’s top 22 cities in terms of wealthiest population centres in 2023 with over 68,500 HNWIs.
  • Updated DIFC Family Arrangements Regulations provide greater privacy through a Private Registry option.

DUBAI, UNITED ARAB EMIRATES – Media OutReach Newswire – 3 May 2024 – With more than 440 registered foundations and over 600 active entities affiliated with top family businesses and individuals, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) has seen a surge in interest for family wealth management. Primarily driven by interest for prescribed companies, or private companies which can be established by a qualifying applicant or for a qualifying purpose, the Centre’s commitment towards regulatory transparency and family confidentiality supported an 81 per cent surge in single family offices, followed by a 12 per cent increase in holding companies, year-on-year in 2023.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Gate
Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Gate

To further support this growth DIFC also announced its new comprehensive guide ‘Prosperity Across Generations: Unlocking the Power of DIFC for Families‘ to empower families with access to knowledge and expertise on structures, governance, wealth management, succession and estate planning in Dubai and DIFC.

DIFC, the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA) region, is a trusted, global hub for many of the world’s wealthiest families and individuals. Home to more than 120 of the world’s wealthiest families and individuals, with a total net worth exceeding USD 1trn, DIFC has helped position Dubai as the number one city in MEASA, and among the top 22 cities globally in terms of wealthiest populations.

According to data published by the World’s Wealthiest Cities Report 2023, Dubai’s population includes over 68,500 HNWIs, or individuals with at least USD 1mn in liquid assets, 206 centi-millionaires, or those with a net worth of at least USD 100mn, and 15 billionaires.

DIFC’s status as the deepest financial centre between London and Singapore, with a workforce of over 41,500 and more than 5,500 active registered companies is underpinned by 20 years of consistent growth and a record-breaking year in 2023, which has further encouraged wealth flows to the Centre and Dubai.

Last year, DIFC launched the first Family Wealth Centre of its kind in the world to advance and grow its thriving ecosystem for global family wealth, and support family businesses as they future proof their growth ambitions and succession plans in Dubai and beyond.

“The UAE has long been the primary and preferred destination for business and investment in the GCC and winder MENA region. Similarly, the UAE aims to become the regional centre for family businesses,” said H.E. Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri, Cabinet Member and UAE Minister of Economy said.

“Dubai stands as a pivotal hub for family wealth, offering unparalleled opportunities and resources for growth and preservation. In just one year, the DIFC Family Wealth Centre has played a crucial role in nurturing this ecosystem. Recognising Dubai’s significance as a global centre for family wealth, the Centre’s swift impact underscores its commitment to fostering prosperity and security for generations to come,” Minister Al Marri added.

His Excellency Essa Kazim, Governor, DIFC, said: “Dubai and DIFC have rapidly positioned themselves as the premier destination for family businesses worldwide. The exponential growth and expertise witnessed within the Centre, underscores its pivotal role in shaping the landscape of family wealth. Today, we mark another significant milestone, in the DIFC Family Wealth Centre’s first anniversary, as we also reflect on DIFC’s innovative 20-year journey that has led us here. We remain dedicated to providing best-in-class resources to our esteemed members, nurturing enduring legacies and empowering families for generations to come, as we together shape the future of finance”.

Top choice for regional and international family businesses

Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC Authority, said: “DIFC’s rise as a global hub for family wealth stems from its commitment to fostering a growth ecosystem for the wider financial sector. With a strong pursuit of transparency, regulation, and knowledge-building, DIFC has earned the trust of 230 banks, including 27 of the top 29 globally systemic banks, and more than 350 highly reputable wealth and asset management firms. This momentum is further fuelled by an influx of family businesses and related entities drawn to DIFC’s lifestyle offerings and its world-class DIFC Family Wealth Centre, which is built for innovation, succession planning, and future prosperity.”

Innovative and future-forward jurisdiction

Aligned with the UAE’s vision to help family businesses maximise their contribution to the economy, the DIFC Family Arrangements Regulations were introduced on 31 January 2023 to replace or repeal the Single Family Office (SFO) Regulations. Benefits under the new regulations include a private registry option, which provides families and their Ultimate Beneficial Ownership’s (UBOs) with the highest levels of privacy and confidentiality. The same regulations also provide certification for family businesses in DIFC to support benefits and incentives planned for family businesses in the UAE under UAE Family Business Law.

DIFC Family Wealth Centre – A global knowledge hub for family wealth

In addition to the revised regulatory framework for family businesses, the launch and development of DIFC Family Wealth Centre in 2023 has helped empower families preserve their wealth and legacies for the future, through best-in-class tailored solutions including asset allocation and portfolio management, governance, succession planning, Sharia compliance as an option, Will registration and philanthropy.

The Centre is further fortified by its work with the Innovation Hub, which supports next generation owners remain at the forefront of technological mechanisms and applications.

Benefitting from DIFC’s internationally recognised legal system, which is based on English common law and includes a variety of structures and regimes, family businesses also gain direct access to accredited advisors, networking opportunities, educational programmes, and a wide range of experiential events, all within the Centre’s diverse and cosmopolitan community, which includes some of the city’s top eateries, venues, cultural centres, and lifestyle destinations.

Recently, DIFC Family Wealth Centre and STEP Arabia signed an MOU to foster the common interests in relation to guiding family businesses on their journey to achieve multi-generational success, and to enhance the know-how of advisers to achieve that purpose.

As a societal mechanism for wealth distribution, the DIFC Family Wealth Centre is also a win for the local economy since family businesses are responsible for 60 per cent of the UAE’s GDP, 80 per cent of its workforce and 90 per cent of its private companies.


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Dubai International Financial Centre

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is one of the world’s most advanced financial centres, and the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia (MEASA), which comprises 72 countries with an approximate population of 3bn and an estimated GDP of USD 8tn.

With a 20-year track record of facilitating trade and investment flows across the MEASA region, the Centre connects these fast-growing markets with the economies of Asia, Europe and the Americas through Dubai.

DIFC is home to an internationally recognised, independent regulator and a proven judicial system with an English common law framework, as well as the region’s largest financial ecosystem of over 41,500 professionals working across over 5,500 active registered companies – making up the largest and most diverse pool of industry talent in the region.

The Centre’s vision is to drive the future of finance through cutting-edge technology, innovation, and partnerships. Today, it is the global future of finance and innovation hub offering one of the region’s most comprehensive FinTech and venture capital environments, including cost-effective licensing solutions, fit-for-purpose regulation, innovative accelerator programmes, and funding for growth-stage start-ups.

Comprising a variety of world-renowned retail and dining venues, a dynamic art and culture scene, residential apartments, hotels, and public spaces, DIFC continues to be one of Dubai’s most sought-after business and lifestyle destinations.

For further information, please visit our website: difc.ae, or follow us on LinkedIn and X @DIFC.