Inside Abu Dhabi’s plans to build a finance hub

Author: Gemma Varriale | Published: 11 Nov 2014

Many are questioning how Abu Dhabi plans to turn its dream of creating a financial free zone into a reality that can rival regional incumbent Dubai.

The oil-rich emirate has been busy recruiting senior figures from around the globe to head up the new free zone, known as the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), which aims to be operational in 2015.

Most recently, in October, it announced the hire of Richard Teng, chief regulatory officer of the Singapore Exchange, to head its regulatory body.

But given the presence of the neighbouring Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), it’s unclear whether the UAE, which has a population of almost 10 million, needs another financial zone. "It’s a question of whether there’s room for two in a region which is still relatively small," said Abu Dhabi-based James Farn, head of banking & finance at Hadef & Partners’ Abu Dhabi office.

Indeed, competition...