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Why invest in Dubai

Dubai is a world financial hub with MEASA’s leading banking sector and support for progressive fintech, AI and blockchain solutions making the city a magnet for sector investment.

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Dubai: a world of opportunity

Dubai offers a wealth of opportunities for those seeking to invest. The Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region is home to over three billion people, ever-increasing mobile connectivity and increasing levels of trade and investment. MEASA is demanding ever more widespread and sophisticated financial services, which represents an opportunity for innovative companies within the financial sector.

As trade and investment increase, there will also be a growing market for wholesale banking and capital markets. This underpins Dubai’s place on the map as the de facto hub between all of the major markets within the region, and that is why more than US$350 billion of trade flows through Dubai every year.

A large proportion of the population remains unbanked and the potential for fintech products is vast. With continued growth, wholesale banking and capital markets will become increasingly important and Dubai’s position as a global trade hub places it in pole position.

Digital opportunities in MEASA
The Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) is the financial heart of the MEASA region. With a combined GDP of US$7.7 trillion, its immense young population, 40% is under the age of 25, offers up opportunities for digital financial services.

Dubai as a financial hub

Filling the time-zone gap between the leading financial centres of London and New York in the West, and Hong Kong and Tokyo in the East, DIFC stimulates trade and investment flows along the South-South economic corridor. The Centre will triple in size by 2024 and establish a world-class financial destination by deepening and broadening impact for constituents and global sectors, and investing in innovation.

 

Ensuring best in class  regulatory and judicial framework, DIFC is made up of the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) and the legal bodies of Dubai Courts, the DIFC Courts and two arbitration centres, Dubai's branch of the London Court of International Arbitration (DIFC LCIA), and the Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC).


A vibrant banking and trade sector

DIFC hosts 17 of the world’s top 20 banks, seven of the top law firms and 13 of the world’s most prestigious wealth and asset management companies. It is the preferred regional hub for some of the world’s most reputable banking institutions, including Barclays, Citibank, HSBC and Standard Chartered, which collectively operate 85 branches in the city, while credit card giants Visa and MasterCard are also headquartered in Dubai.

Find your Dubai - Business

Dubai is a city where innovation is in the DNA, empowerment is the norm, dialogues are global and horizons expand every day.

A market for untapped growth

In the Middle East, Africa and South Asia, 86%, 66% and 46% of adults respectively do not have traditional bank accounts. In South Asia, only 55% of men and 37% of women have bank accounts. In particular, the youth find it challenging to access banking services. In sub-Saharan Africa, young people hold US$2.2 billion in savings, and half of this amount is held by people living on less than US$2 per day. Smartphone usage is increasing, with 33% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa using the devices, this is expected to double by 2025.

Opportunities for fintech
This environment is fertile ground for fintech investments, which grew in number by 66% in the MENA region between 2014 and 2019. With its clear investments in AI and technology, Dubai is ideally positioned to benefit from the fintech explosion.

Opportunities for investors and venture capitalists

Dubai is home to the highest number of investors and venture capitalists in the region. Crowdfunding platforms and lower-cost portfolio products have opened up investment, and are giving middle and lower-middle-income citizens the ability to become investors. Growth in the provision of credit, an increasing interest in private equity and a rise in venture capital are also helping to drive growth in the middle market.

 

Dubai-based VCs are also contributing to the fintech surge: Wamda Capital, founded in 2014 and one of the most active VCs in the UAE, invested US$17.4 million in financial products comparison website YallaCompare, and has also launched a US$100 million fund named WamdaX; and BECO Capital has broadened its exposure to FinTech, investing US$3.5 million in insurance comparison site Bayzat.

Fintech forward

As technology is transforming the way financial transactions are enabled and completed, Dubai is taking the lead in the region’s fintech sector with a wealth of start-ups setting up operations in the city. In the Middle East and North Africa alone, fintech start-ups have raised more than US$100 million in funding over the last decade. 

 

With Dubai today recognised as one of the world’s top ten fintech hubs and number one in the region, the DIFC is spearheading the city’s innovation ecosystem, and is well placed to drive growth. One such initiative is a low cost Innovation License. Offered to technology enablers, it caters to firms that fall under FinTech, RegTech, InsureTech; and other SMEs interested in developing or testing new, novel or innovative products.

A sector with huge growth potential, with a value in the UAE alone expected to reach US$27.2 billion in 2020.

A sector with huge growth potential, with a value in the UAE alone expected to reach US$27.2 billion in 2020.

E-commerce

Dubai’s e-commerce sector is realising huge growth potential in Dubai, with the value expected to reach US$27.2 billion in 2020 in the UAE alone. A series of reforms and government measures to stimulate growth are set to drive UAE’s gross domestic product to pass the US$500 billion mark over the next few years.

The Entertainer

The Entertainer was founded in 2001 as a way of offering two-for-one deals on meals, spa treatment and entertainment. Now an app, it offers deals from more than 10,000 merchants across the Middle East, Europe, Asia and Africa

AI and Robotics

The city also ranked first globally in attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) for AI and Robotics, reporting US$21.6 billion worth of FDI in high-end technology transfers between 2015 to 2018; the most coming from the European Union and the U.S. — US$5.7 billion and US$3.9 billion, respectively. With its own focus on attracting investment in technology, including robotics and AI, Dubai is ideally positioned at the region's heart to lead the fintech and blockchain revolution.

The Future of a Blockchain-powered Government

Dubai offers a wealth of opportunities for those seeking to invest. The Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region is home to over three billion people, ever-increasing mobile connectivity and increasing levels of trade and investment. MEASA is demanding ever more widespread and sophisticated financial services, which represents an opportunity for innovative companies within the financial sector.

As trade and investment increase, there will also be a growing market for wholesale banking and capital markets. This underpins Dubai’s place on the map as the de facto hub between all of the major markets within the region, and that is why more than US$350 billion of trade flows through Dubai every year.

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