Dubai financial center unveils $100m fintech fund

Essa Kazim, the governor of the DIFC, announced the fund at the Global Financial Forum. (DIFC)
Updated 15 November 2017
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Dubai financial center unveils $100m fintech fund

DUBAI: The Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) has launched a $100 million fund for investment in financial technology, the fastest-growing sector of the global financial services industry.
The fund will be invested from the UAE hub’s own internal resources, but may also get backing from other Dubai government entities, though private-sector bank finance has been ruled out.
Essa Kazim, the governor of the DIFC, announced the fund at the DIFC’s Global Financial Forum.
Other financial centers in the region have also identified fintech as a growth area.
Kazim said: “The fund is to help establish, grow and upscale startup and growth-stage fintech firms looking to access markets in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia. The fund will leverage the DIFC’s fintech ecosystem consisting of attractive experimental licenses, market-leading pricing and collaborative spaces.
“There is immense opportunity in this market, and this will be one more step toward shaping the future of finance in the region,” he added.
Earlier this year, the DIFC announced its dedicated fintech premises, dubbed the Hive, which aims to accelerate growth in the sector, in collaboration with local and international banks. The first 11 fintech firms at the Hive were announced recently.
Kazim said that the fund “is set up, it’s there, it’s supported from our own internal resources. We are ready to spend money, but it depends on the opportunities,” he added, insisting that investments would be decided by certain criteria.
The fund would be available for small- and medium-sized startup ventures, he said.
“It’s $100 million in total, so you would be thinking of smaller companies. It’s not $1 billion in Uber, it’s not that. It’s really to support the startups, the smaller sized companies. Some companies probably need around $50,000, and some maybe need $1 million or $2 million,” Kazim added.
Fintech has emerged as a growth area since the DIFC announced a 10-year strategy to triple in size by 2024.
“In certain areas, probably, we have passed our targets but other areas we are probably lacking a bit. One area is employment. Although the number of licenses are on track, attracting companies, and our offices are fully leased out in terms of DIFC-owned buildings, we could still do more in employment. But it’s not significant. We will catch up as we go further,” Kazim said.
“If you look at our own statistics, prior to the drop in the oil price we were averaging 150 companies licensing a year. After that, the average jumped to 300 companies a year.”


Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

Updated 21 min 30 sec ago
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Cost of eating out in Saudi Arabia rises at fastest rate in five years

  • August data reveal sharp uptick in prices in hotel and restaurant sector
  • But price increases in other sectors slow leaving overall inflation rate flat

LONDON: The cost of eating out or enjoying a night’s stay at a hotel in Saudi Arabia increased at the fastest rate recorded in five years last month, according to government statistics.
August’s consumer price data show that restaurant and hotel inflation rose to a new high of 8.4 percent year-on-year in August from 7.6 percent year-on-year in July.
Slower price increases in other categories ensured the headline inflation rate for the Kingdom remained relatively flat, with inflation staying at 2.2 percent year-on-year in August, unchanged from the previous month.
Analysts forecast that the Kingdom’s inflation rate will likely pick up again towards the end of the year.
“We still expect it to rise a little over the rest of this year as underlying price pressures pick up,” said Jason Tuvey, senior emerging markets economist at Capital Economics, on Tuesday in a research note.
Inflation in Saudi Arabia peaked earlier this year at 3 percent following the introduction of the new value-added tax on certain goods and the government-imposed price hikes on the cost of energy at the start of 2018.
Consumer prices are expected to drop again in the new year as the impact of the VAT charge lessens, analysts predict.
“The upshot is that we expect that inflation will fall to around 1 percent year-on-year in January 2019,” said Tuvey in a note.
Food inflation - which represents 20 percent of the basket of goods and services used to calculate the growth rates in consumer prices - edged downwards in August to 6.6 percent year-on-year compared to 6.7 percent in July. 

The cost of food had jumped in July, with vegetables in particular becoming more expensive with inflation hitting 8.1 percent year-on-year compared to a decline of 0.8 percent year-on-year recorded in June.