Dubai’s DIFC Plans $4.1 Billion Expansion Over 10 Years

Dubai International Financial Centre, a tax-free business zone, plans to add buildings with a value of 15 billion dirhams ($4.1 billion) as high occupancy rates drive expansion, the center’s property director said.

DIFC will seek property companies, developers, funds and real estate investment trusts to develop 17 buildings through joint ventures, DIFC Properties Chief Executive Officer Brett Schafer said today in an interview. The center will contribute land and infrastructure while its partners will be responsible for financing construction, he said.

While Dubai’s office vacancy rate is about 45 percent following the emirate’s property crash, tax-free zones such as DIFC and the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre are performing better because of rules that make it more simple to own and operate properties there.

“We are the Wall Street of an $8 trillion economy” and can’t be compared to the rest of Dubai, said Schafer, who was appointed in May. “We are comparable to financial centers like London and Singapore, but we are cheaper.”

The expansion, to be completed over 10 years, will be 65 percent offices, 20 percent homes and the rest retail, the CEO said. Construction of a 200-room hotel will begin next year. More than 1,000 companies operate within the 110-acre (44.5-hectare) DIFC, he said.

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