The material on this site is for financial institutions, professional investors and their professional advisers. It is for information only. Please read our Terms & Conditions, Privacy Policy and Cookies before using this site.

All material subject to strictly enforced copyright laws. © 2021 Euromoney, a part of the Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC.
Capital Markets

Financial centres: Can the Gulf bridge the gap?

Ambitious plans for international financial centres in the Gulf states of Dubai, Qatar and Bahrain that would be hubs for financial services in a broadly defined region are still a long way off being fulfilled. Dominic Dudley looks at the likely outcomes.

THE SPEECH BY Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum at the launch of the Dubai International Financial Centre in February 2002 was typically ambitious. The then crown prince, now ruler, of Dubai, told his audience that the DIFC would be "a bridge for financial services between our region and the international markets", in effect providing a new link in the chain of global financial hubs.

Perhaps wisely, however, he did not say just when Dubai would be seen as the equal of Tokyo, London or New York. Since then, the emirate’s economy has gone through a severe dip and several other nearby states have made it clear that they too want to be the financial link between the Gulf and the wider world.

The plans of Qatar and Bahrain were crystallized in 2008 with the release of two official reports. In July of that year, the Qatari government published its National Vision 2030 – a development strategy that included creating a diversified economy that could act as "a regional hub for knowledge and for high value industrial and service activities".

Two months later Bahrain, which has had a sizeable banking industry for decades, published its Economic Vision 2030, which talked about becoming a "global contender" in which "our financial sector will remain our economic engine".

You have reached premium content. Please log in to continue reading.

Read beyond the headlines with Euromoney

For over 50 years, our readers have looked to Euromoney to stay informed about the issues that matter in the international banking and financial markets. Find out more about our different levels of access below.


Unlimited access to and

Expert comment, long reads and in-depth analysis interviews with senior finance professionals

Access the results of our market-leading annual surveys across core financial services

Access the results of our annual awards, including the world-renowned Awards for Excellence

Your print copy of Euromoney magazine delivered monthly

£73.75 per month

Billed Annually


Unlimited access to and, including our top stories, long reads, expert analysis, and the results of our annual surveys and awards

Sign up to any of our newsletters, curated by our editors


Already a user?

We use cookies to provide a personalized site experience.
By continuing to use & browse the site you agree to our Privacy Policy.
I agree