Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading international financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, reinforces its commitment to supporting the UAE Government’s sustained efforts to protect citizens and residents from the impact of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In response to COVID-19, DIFC is actively following the mandatory directives of the UAE Ministry of Health & Prevention (MoHAP), the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) and the guidelines issued by the other relevant Government Authorities and World Health Organisation (WHO). DIFC is constantly monitoring the evolving situation and implementing every precautionary measure available to protect the health and safety of its employees, tenants and DIFC community at large.
The Centre has also applied preventative measures issued by the National Emergency and Crisis and Disasters Management Authority. In line with government directives, DIFC temporarily suspended all retail outlets, except pharmacies, groceries and supermarkets to ensure essential medical and food supplies remain available to the community. Restaurants and cafes are currently closed to customers, with services limited to home takeaway deliveries while the Centre has also temporarily closed the DIFC Mosque, prayer facilities and areas of worship in line with government guidance.
To further prevent the spread of COVID-19, DIFC moved towards streaming webinars and is planning a series of virtual business, community and lifestyle events to avoid mass gatherings. Furthermore, digital channels are being fully utilised, maintaining the ability to connect live with the DIFC Services Front Desk and conduct business. DIFC Authority (DIFCA) has also committed to a work from home policy and has embraced social distancing at the Centre.
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Aligning with Dubai Government’s economic stimulus programme, DIFC will introduce a series of fiscal easing initiatives over the next three months from 1 April – 30 June 2020 to help protect the financial services industry and all businesses operating in the Centre. Five initiatives will be introduced on a conditional basis, offering businesses the opportunity to benefit from a waiver of annual licensing fees on new registrations during the next three months. Businesses can also take advantage of a 10% discount of renewal fees for existing license holders in the DIFC for entities due to renew their licenses between 1 April – 30 June 2020.
DIFC will also allow deferred payments for all properties owned by DIFC Investments Ltd for a period up to six months from 1 April 2020. A reduction on property transfer fees in the DIFC from 5% to 4% will also be applied to any transfer of property (or any part thereof) that takes place within the three-month period. The transfer must be registered with the DIFC Registrar of Real Properties within 30 days following the expiry of the three-month period 1 April – 30 June 2020.
DIFC will also facilitate the free movement of labour in and out of the Centre between other free zones, provided employers have the necessary secondment arrangements in place and employees are recorded with registry services to secure a secondment card in order to access buildings and offices within the DIFC.
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority said: “The wellbeing of our community is of utmost importance. We are working continually to ensure all health and safety measures are implemented swiftly and effectively as directed by the relevant Government authorities. We also ensure business operations operate with minimal disruption through our online services and virtual meetings that keep us connected globally. We are actively working to provide the best possible environment for businesses to continue operating seamlessly. Our stimulus package aims to alleviate the tremendous burden COVID-19 has on our clients, industry and economy. We are grateful for the commitment of our long standing partners, clients and community who have been working together during these challenging times.”
The DIFC community is also encouraged to visit the newly created page on the DIFC website to keep abreast of the latest COVID-19 related circulars from the DIFC and Government entities.
DIFC is well positioned to get navigate through challenging period and will continue work in close cooperation with the Dubai Government in a cohesive effort to protect the future of finance in Dubai and the region.