The main drivers of activity in the development of FinTech in the UAE are thefinancial free zones, the Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”) and the Dubai International Financial Centre (“DIFC”). The ADGM and DIFC have both taken great big strides to create a supportive and nurturing home for tech start-ups in the UAE, the aim of which is to position the UAE as the preferred jurisdiction for such innovation. The UAE has stiff competition which European countries such as Sweden, Denmark and the United Kingdom having already established themselves as “go to” jurisdictions for FinTech start-ups. The DIFC established a FinTech Hive which already has over thirty start-ups set up and operating in the Hive. 

2018 was a great year for the DIFC FinTech Hive, hosting numerous open events available to those interested in learning more about the FinTech space and the start-ups already operating within the Hive. In addition, 2018 has been another successful year for the Hive’s accelerator programme which almost doubled in size from its launch in 2017.

Another interesting development is the growth of Islamic FinTech’s in the region. Shortly after the DIFC FinTech Hive was established, the DIFC announced it was collaborating with the Dubai Islamic Economy Development Centre (“DIEDC”) to ensure Islamic FinTech products were to be developed and nurtured within the DIFC FinTech Hive. As part of this collaboration, Emirates Islamic Bank, Dubai Islamic Bank and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank all agreed to mentor participants in the DIFC FinTech Hive who are specifically developing Islamic finance technology. 

We are looking forward to more exciting developments in this space in 2019.