DIFC starts to take shape

Dubai International Financial Centre's recent high profile marketing campaign reflects Dubai's aim to become a global financial hub.

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By  David Ingham Published  October 1, 2003

The 16,000 delegates to the IMF/World Bank meetings in Dubai last week could hardly have failed to notice the Dubai International Financial Centre and its aim to become a world class capital market. From the moment they got on the plane, they would have seen the TV commercial produced by RSA, the production company of Ridley Scott, director of Gladiator and other major feature films.

Then, as they entered the Dubai International Airport, they would have noticed the DIFC's branding and messaging. On the way to the hotel, they could not have missed DIFC's branded light boxes, illuminating the Garhoud Bridge and Sheikh Zayed road.

As they awoke on the Monday morning, they would have seen the four page 'wrapper' around Gulf News and Khaleej Times, explaining the rationale and goals of the DIFC. In the Financial Times and Economist worldwide, they would have noticed the full page colour ads, with the DIFC's 'Gate' building juxtaposed with the backgrounds of London, New York and Hong Kong.

Dubai 2003 coincided with the stepping up of an intensive marketing programme to introduce the DIFC to prospective licence applicants. Over the four days of Dubai 2003, the DIFC hosted no fewer than 20 events for over 500 delegates to the IMF/World Bank meetings.

In addition, Sheikh Mohammed gave the keynote address to a meeting of the Institute of International Finance at the Jumeirah Beach Hotel, in which he invited heads of financial institutions to consider establishing a presence in the DIFC. Sheikh Mohammed also hosted a private DIFC dinner in the Zabeel Palace for leading bankers and finance ministers on Tuesday 23. Special guests included James D Wolfensohn, president of The World Bank, and Horst K÷hler, managing director of the International Monetary Fund.

"All this activity was designed to achieve a number of clearly defined objectives. In particular, we wanted to demonstrate to the top 100 global financial institutions not only the rationale of the DIFC but also the progress achieved over a very short time in realising the vision articulated for the project," says Geoff Rapp, manager of corporate communications for DIFC.

"We also wanted to showcase the professionalism and quality of the team, which has been assembled to lead the project, as well as the very high standards of regulation that are being applied to participants in the DIFC. Although large and complex, the fundamental message that we have wished to convey about the DIFC is a very simple one: the DIFC is the regional location of choice for global financial institutions, comparable in quality to New York, London and Hong Kong."

Rapp believes none of the delegates to the IMF and World Bank meetings could be left with any doubt that the DIFC is more than just an idea. "In every sense, we have prepared the ground," he says.
"The DIFC marketing effort will now be concentrated on converting high levels of interest in the project into actual applications for licences to operate in the centre. We expect to be announcing the first licensees shortly."

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