I’m not yet done with our last trip to Dubai. While we were there we made frequent visits to the nearby Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) largely because of its wealth of quality dining options, its art galleries and civic art displays. Plus, it was a great place for our regular runs.
The Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) is a special economic zone covering 110 ha (272 acres). It’s the leading financial hub for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) – 72 countries with an approximate population of 3 billion and a nominal GDP of US$ 7.7 trillion. It was set up in 2004 and has its own independent, internationally regulated regulator and judicial system, common law framework, global financial exchange, tax-friendly regime and a large business community.
More importantly, DIFC is one of Dubai’s independent free-zones; it offers companies 100% ownership without the need for a local partner. The district’s common-law framework is distinct from that of the UAE, with laws and regulations issued in English. DIFC offers clients a 50-year guarantee of zero taxes on corporate income and profits, complemented by the UAE’s network of double taxation treaties.
All very interesting but none of that is why I regularly visit the place. While the district houses hundreds of financial institutions, including wealth funds and private investors, it also hosts a variety of world-renowned retail and dining venues, a dynamic art and culture scene, residential apartments, hotels and public spaces. Consequently DIFC continues to be one of Dubai’s most sought-after business and lifestyle destinations.
I love that it’s alive with art galleries representing work by emerging and established artists from around the world, and some of Dubai’s hottest “see-and-be-seen” dining spots.The financial hub is also home to some of the city’s most sophisticated (and my favourite) five-star hotels – the Ritz-Carlton, the Waldorf Astoria, Fairmont and Four Seasons – and chic residential towers, all connected by walkways dotted with public art. It’s also just a short stroll from our hotel.
The Centre is home to a number of art galleries showcasing works by Middle Eastern and foreign artists, and frequently hosts events to present new works from different artists.
Whether you visit for a morning coffee, lunch or a late night out, the urban vibe attracts Dubai’s tastemakers, and even mid-week, there’s always a buzz in the evening with city workers unwinding after work and galleries throwing open their doors for launches.