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Abu Dhabi to expand its financial district

Ardian opened a new office at Abu Dhabi Global Market on Al Maryah Island in January WAM
Ardian opened a new office at Abu Dhabi Global Market on Al Maryah Island in January

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is to expand its jurisdiction to include neighbouring Al Reem Island, making it one of the largest international financial districts in the world.

The move is part of ADGM’s growth strategy which aims to make it a key contributor to the emirate’s GDP.

The addition of Al Reem Island will increase the combined geographic area of ADGM to nearly 1.44 million square metres.

Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development and ADGM, said that Al Maryah Island – the freezone’s current main hub – has proved popular, with an occupancy level of 95 percent.

He added that a strong pipeline of international companies is seeking to expand or establish their footprint in the freezone.

“We have prioritised our ongoing efforts to continue to grow towards accommodating this ever-increasing demand,” Al Zaabi said. “Al Maryah’s larger next door neighbour, Al Reem Island, also presents abundant opportunities.

“Together, as ADGM, Al Maryah and Al Reem Islands will be one of the most attractive places to live and work across financial centres worldwide.”

ADGM has been home to 1,400 operating entities, 5,500 business licences and a workforce of 11,000 people over the past eight years.

Last year, ADGM saw an increase of 56 percent in assets under management and a 30 percent increase in active licences.

In 2019 an expansion plan for Dubai’s financial hub, known as DIFC 2.0, was announced with the district comprising 6.4 million sq ft of office space, 2.6 million sq ft of creative space, 1.5 million sq ft of residences, 1.3 million sq ft of retail space and 700,000 sq ft devoted to leisure and entertainment alongside an additional 250,000 sq ft of hospitality offerings and 3.5 million sq ft of car parking.

The ADGM expansion comes as it was announced earlier this year that financial centres in the UAE, Qatar and Bahrain had fallen down the rankings of the latest global index.

Dubai slipped five places to 22nd in the 33rd edition of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 33), which ranks 120 financial centres around the world.

Abu Dhabi has fallen three places over the last six months to 35th.

The GCFI is published bi-annually, in September and March, and provides a ranking of 153 financial centres around the world.

New York topped the list, with the financial centres of London and Singapore taking second and third places in the index.