The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), a special economic zone in Dubai and a financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) markets, has launched a new license for startups, entrepreneurs and technology companies.
The Dubai Innovation License costs US$1,500 and provides companies with access to co-working space at DIFC with a flexible desk space at US$500 per month. The license also offers up to four visas on the first desk and subsidized visas of up to 50% for innovation firms.
The license is sector agnostic and available to all startups, entrepreneurs and tech companies, providing them with the resources to establish, grow and upscale their innovative business to access the MEASA markets through Dubai, the DIFC says in its website.
It aims to “serve as a launch pad for relevant and cutting-edge technology pertaining to all tech startups, entrepreneurs, and technology and innovative companies,” and “enable them to tap into tech innovations and opportunities across the MEASA region.”
A leading fintech hub
The DIFC has been working towards becoming a leading fintech hub, launching new policies and initiatives to attract foreign companies and develop a favorable environment for the industry to grow and thrive. Notable initiatives include the Innovation Testing License by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and peer-to-peer lending regulations.
In 2019, 493 new companies were registered in the DIFC, up 14% compared with the previous year. The increase brought the total number of companies incorporated in the center to 2,437.
In total, the center is home to 737 active financial firms and 129 fintech companies. New fintech entrants to the DIFC last year included Wethaq (Capital Markets), Likvidi Securities (formerly known as TokenMarket Capital Limited), and Fenergo.
Today, the center claims it is home to the largest and most developed fintech ecosystem in the region, and houses the DIFC Fintech Hive, a fintech hub that operates one of the region’s leading fintech accelerators, as well as the Fintech Fund, which financially supports the industry’s startups.
The DIFC Fintech Hive recently expanded its business and innovation space. The expanded space will house a new event area, additional co-working space, as well as the Startupbootcamp accelerator program.
And since early 2019, the DIFC has been working to expand the center by a total of 13 million square feet in a plan called DIFC 2.0. Upon completion, the new district will comprise 6.4 million square feet of office space, 2.6 million square feet of creative space, 1.5 million square feet of residences, 1.3 million square feet of retail space and 700,000 square feet devoted to leisure and entertainment.
Last year, fDi Intelligence, published by the Financial Times, ranked Dubai seventh globally among the world’s top fintech locations. Dubai was the only city in the MEASA region to make the top 10 list.
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