Prosperity Zone

Dubai International Financial Centre


This enhanced Special Economic Zone has become one of the world’s leading and most advanced financial hubs in less than two decades.


Dubai, UAE


20,000 (estimate)





English, Arabic



Key Industries

Financial Services



Legal Status

Current Situation

How to Move in


The DIFC is a small 110-hectare independent jurisdiction with its own civil, corporate, commercial, and security laws. The judicial system is based on a common-law framework and judges are selected from leading common law countries. The jurisdiction features an independent Dubai International Arbitration Centre (DIAC).

The DIFC boasts a wide array of business-friendly regulations. From the date of incorporation, businesses carry a 50-year guarantee of zero taxes on corporate income and profits. The DIFC allows 100% foreign ownership without the need for a local partner and features an international stock exchange (Nasdaq Dubai).

Legal Status

The DIFC is a Financial Free Zone defined in UAE Federal Law No. 8 of 2004 as an independent jurisdiction within the UAE. As such, the DIFC is empowered to create its own legal and regulatory framework for all civil and commercial matters. 

The DIFC is managed by the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority, which is operated much like a for-profit entity by a CEO.

Current Situation

Within 15 years of its establishment, Dubai has risen up the ranks of the Global Financial Centres Index to the 8th position. The number of registered companies in DIFC has grown by 14% each year between 2007 and 2020, and the number of active companies has increased by 25% in one year to 3644 at the end of 2021. The total market value of DIFC activities surpassed $700 billion in 2019.

The zone has become the premier financial hub in the Middle East and is estimated to house over 20,000 residents.

How to Move in

Dubai offers a variety of residency options for foreigners. A work visa is available for both employees with sponsors and for self-employed entrepreneurs. Dubai also allows residency by investment, either in a local company or real estate.

Additional residency options are available for scientists and professionals, individuals of “exceptional talents”, high-performing graduates, and humanitarian workers. In 2021, Dubai also started offering digital nomad visas for remote workers.

Check official sources for a full list of options and further details.

Free City Functional Elements

Business and Commercial Autonomy


What does this mean? Business and Commercial Autonomy refers to the City's powers to regulate business and commercial law at its own discretion. This includes labor law, building law, local environmental regulations, company law, and legal tender laws.

Financial and Social Autonomy


What does this mean? Financial and Social Autonomy refers to the City's powers to establish its own tax, customs, and social regime, independent of the regulations of the Host State.

Property Rights Autonomy


What does this mean? Property Rights Autonomy referes to the City's powers to set its own rules for the acquisition of property, including real estate, and whether property titles thus obtained are recognized by the Host State.

Criminal Justice Autonomy


What does this mean? Criminal Justice Autonomy refers to the City's powers to set its own criminal justice code, which applies within the city limits, independent of the Host State.

Internal Affairs Autonomy


What does this mean? Internal Affairs Autonomy means that Host State and its organs may not interfere in the internal affairs of the City, its inhabitants, or businesses, and that the Host State’s law enforcement staff are not allowed to enter the City in an official capacity without the City’s approval.

Migratory Autonomy


What does this mean? Migratory Autonomy referes to the City's powers to expel unwanted persons or deny them entry, even if they are citizens of the Host State. It also includes whether the City may issue residency, work, and visitor visas at its own discretion, and whether visas issued by the Host State are not required for entry into the City.



What does this mean? Self-governance signifies whether justice, law enforcement, and administration are carried out under the City’s own control and by its own staff.

Status Guarantee


What does this mean? Status Guarantee refers to whether the special legal status of the City is guaranteed by the Host State for a long period of time (ideally 99 years or longer).

Investor Protection


What does this mean? Investor Protection signifies whether all investments made in the City are subject to guaranteed special investor protection contractually set between the City and the Host State.

Get Involved

The DIFC is open for business.