Over the past several decades, the U.A.E. has established itself as the financial hub of the Middle East. The country’s major financial centers of Abu Dhabi and Dubai are now home to sovereign wealth funds, banks, and other financial institutions looking to serve clientele and deploy capital not just in the Middle East but to South Asia, Africa, and beyond.
The U.A.E. boasts several sovereign wealth funds, most notably Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA) and Mubadala Investment Company, that deploy capital across a variety of asset classes and geographies to generate financial returns for the greater benefit of the U.A.E.
The U.A.E. is also home to some of the region’s largest indigenous banks, including First Abu Dhabi Bank (FAB), Emirates NBD, and Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank (ADCB), as well as the regional headquarters of leading global banks and financial service providers, such as JP Morgan Chase, Morgan Stanley, and Citi. Foreign financial institutions and fintech startups alike benefit from the favorable regulatory environments of the U.A.E.’s leading financial free zones—Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). The Business Council’s “Entrepreneurial Emirates” report outlines these latter developments in detail.
The Business Council supports members in the financial services sector by arranging for regular meetings with prominent U.S. and U.A.E. officials, including the U.A.E. Minister of Economy, and by organizing networking opportunities, often on the sidelines of events like Select USA and the Annual Investment Meeting. Moreover, the Business Council organized a U.S. FinTech delegation to the U.A.E. in Fall 2019, and has hosted delegations from ADGM and DIFC in the United States.
The Business Council has also hosted joint webinars with member financial institutions, shared timely economic forecasts, and led discussions with Dubai FDI, Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO), and the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) to showcase opportunities for investment in the U.A.E. As well, the Business Council has promoted dialogue around innovative payment technology and actively supported inclusion and diversity in the financial services space. In September 2021, the Business Council held a special webinar with the U.A.E. Minister of Economy covering the economic and trade implications of the Abraham Accords.
The Business Council has also played a key role in conveying industry viewpoints on important regulatory matters, such as the U.A.E.’s recent introduction of a VAT and excise taxes. In addition, the Business Council continues to release timely publications on developments in the U.S. and U.A.E. finance and business environments. These include a landmark report on U.A.E. measures to attract FDI, a review of changes to U.A.E. foreign ownership laws, a study of the creation of Mubadala Investment Company, a primer on the creation of First Abu Dhabi Bank, a study on the U.A.E.’s fintech sector, and a guide to doing business in the U.A.E.