DMCC free zone posts strong growth in 2023, attracts 2,692 new companies

The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) licensed 2,692 new companies in 2023, its second-best year on record, bringing the total number of companies in the UAE’s largest free zone to over 24,000.

DMCC noted in its annual report that it had maintained its leading role as a magnet for foreign direct investment (FDI), accounting for 11% of Dubai’s total FDI inflows in 2023. This growth, it said, was driven by DMCC’s position as a global trading hub for commodities, including diamonds and precious stones, gold, energy and agri-softs, as well as its high-value services such as crypto, gaming and Web3.

Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE)

The Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE), which is now the world’s largest diamond tender facility, hosted 70 tenders for both buying and selling rough and polished diamonds in 2023. With the ability to host multiple tenders simultaneously, the DDE currently licenses over 1,200 member companies in the global free zone.

This year DMCC executive chairman and CEO Ahmed Bin Sulayem has also assumed the role of chairing the Kimberley Process, an international forum dedicated to eliminating conflict diamonds from the global trade. It is the first time the UAE has chaired the initiative involving 85 member countries since 2016.

Dubai commodities exchanges

DMCC’s Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange (DGCX), the largest derivatives exchange in the Middle East, saw a total of USD115.3 billion worth of contracts traded in 2023.

The DMCC Coffee Centre processed 7,330 metric tonnes of coffee, facilitating trade for key markets in Central and South America, Asia and Africa, while the DMCC Tea Centre handled 32,000 metric tonnes of tea, supporting the UAE’s status as one of the largest re-exporters of tea in the world.

DMCC Tradeflow, a fully digital registry for the possession and ownership of commodities stored in UAE-based facilities, recorded a total value of USD522 billion, a 17% increase over 2022.

DMCC Crypto Centre

The DMCC’s strategy of pioneering new industry ecosystems within its global free zone in a range of high-growth business activities proved highly successful in 2023, particularly in the field of technology as Dubai continues to consolidate itself as a hub for innovation.

The DMCC Crypto Centre welcomed industry leaders such as cryptocurrency centralised exchange Bybit, integrated blockchain platform Solana and crypto incubator TDeFi as ecosystem partners alongside 129 companies that joined the Centre. The Centre is now home to 600 firms, further reinforcing its position as the largest concentration of crypto, blockchain and Web3 companies in the region.

Further core growth sectors for DMCC are artificial intelligence (AI) and Gaming which, it said, were show promising opportunities in 2024 with the expansion of its Gaming Centre and the impending launch of a new AI Centre. Over the past year, DMCC’s Gaming Centre doubled in size to reach almost 100 members at the year end.

Key growth was also noted in the energy sector, with over 460 new energy companies joining the free zone in 2023, bringing the total tally of energy members in the district to over 3,230.

Real Estate – Uptown Dubai and JLT

DMCC’s free zone real estate offering grew substantially in 2023, with the opening of its new headquarters at Uptown Tower, an 81-storey tower incorporating a hotel, branded residences and 22 floors of Grade A office space. Uptown Tower signifies the start of DMCC’s Uptown Dubai district, which will redefine mixed-use developments in the region and help facilitate Dubai’s accelerated growth.

DMCC has now broken ground on the second phase of the Uptown Dubai development, which will see the construction of two mid-rise towers. The 23 and 17-storey towers will provide 70,000 square metres of Grade A commercial office space as well as 8,000 square metres of retail and restaurant space.

Six new residential towers were also announced for development in the adjacent Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) residential district, alongside a range of community enhancements such as new sports facilities. JLT is home to 100,000 people spread across the 2 million square metre community and its 87 residential and commercial towers.

“For DMCC, 2023 showcased our ability to sustain our record performance whilst undertaking crucial infrastructure expansions,” said Bin Sulayem. “Attracting 2,692 new companies is testament to our efforts to continuously enhance our value proposition year after year, reinforcing the role we and our members play in driving trade and investment.

“With the opening of Uptown Tower and the wider development of Uptown Dubai, our business district is stronger now than it has ever been, and we have set ourselves up for accelerated growth, a crucial factor as we accommodate new waves of investment to Dubai.”

Established in 2002, with a mandate to provide the physical, market and financial infrastructure required to set up a commodities’ marketplace in Dubai, DMCC was the first UAE free zone authority to offer freehold business premises, in addition to all other standard free zone services. These comprise a 50-year holiday on personal and income taxes, full foreign ownership of business and a one-stop shop facility for processing of all documentation including immigration and licensing needs.

How can Sovereign assist?

Establishing a company within DMCC can be a complex process. Sovereign Corporate Services offers comprehensive support to any digital assets business establishing in the UAE and can provide direct access to government agencies and regulatory bodies. We will provide guidance and expertise throughout the process and will review applications before submission to ensure that your structure meets all business and regulatory requirements.

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