Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), the international financial centre of the UAE’s capital, is continuing another strong year as the fastest growing financial centre in the region, with a record-breaking start during the first quarter of 2024 marked by an increase of 211 per cent in Assets Under Management (AUM) compared to the first quarter of 2023.

The growth trajectory of ADGM in Assets Under Management, coupled with a significant increase during Q1 2024 in the number of operational entities, the size of workforce and other elements of the IFC ecosystem, underscore the concerted efforts and strategic initiatives undertaken to strengthen its standing as a leading international financial centre.

His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market said, “Abu Dhabi once again affirms its position as the leading financial powerhouse of the MEASA region. ADGM’s unwavering commitment to excellence, demonstrated through its initiatives and achievements, continues to drive remarkable growth, attracting talent, businesses, and quality investments from across the globe. This year holds the promise of even greater growth for ADGM and its ecosystem, marking a significant stride towards achieving Abu Dhabi’s economic goals and ambitions.”

ADGM's asset management sector began 2024 with an influx of global asset managers establishing operations in the IFC, and pushing the surge in the size of Assets Under Management within ADGM during the first three months of the year 2024 to a growth of 211 per cent compared to the same period of 2023. By the end of March 2023, the number of fund and asset managers operating in ADGM reached 107, managing 137 funds.

The attractiveness of ADGM as a holistic financial hub which stands as the sole jurisdiction in the region to adopt the direct application of English common law, has resulted in ongoing increase in the number and diversity of prominent regional and global firms establishing in ADGM. By the end of March 2024, the total number of operational entities in ADGM increased by 30 per cent compared to the same period last year, to reach 1,950 including 291 financial services entities.

In response to unprecedented demand from major global asset managers in the hedge fund, private equity, and venture capital sectors, ADGM has embarked during the first quarter of this year on a trade mission to multiple countries, starting with the United States where more than 40 bilateral discussions with hedge funds, private equity funds, and venture capital firms at the iConnections Global Alts 2024. This event is recognised as the largest gathering for alternative investment professionals, providing an unparalleled platform for networking, collaboration, and the exchange of insights within the alternative investment landscape.

ADGM's workforce has grown to over 25,000 people, working on Al Maryah Island, as more talented individuals choose Abu Dhabi as their destination to live, work, and thrive.

Abu Dhabi's appeal extends beyond its business opportunities, it has been ranked as the best and safest city to live in the region offering a high quality of life with world-class amenities and infrastructure. Out of Abu Dhabi, ADGM is further enhancing its attractiveness as a preferred destination for professionals and investors alike.

In its 2024 Outlook, a comprehensive survey conducted among the ADGM community provides insight into the promising prospects for ADGM as a preferred destination. A total of 70.81 per cent of companies anticipate expanding their workforce in ADGM during 2024, with 29.93 per cent expecting significant increases and 40.88 per cent planning moderate growth in staffing. This collective optimism reflects Abu Dhabi's robust economic health and the strong confidence within the business community in the conducive business environment of the IFC.

During Q1 2024 the ADGM Academy has achieved further success in training and placing hundreds of Emirati nationals in professional job profiles across various companies in the UAE. Through rigorous and comprehensive training programs, the academy has equipped these individuals with the necessary skills and knowledge to excel in their chosen fields. As a result, they have seamlessly integrated into the workforce, contributing to the growth and success of their respective companies, and bolstering the talent pool in the UAE.

Following the introduction of the DLT Foundations Regulations, ADGM signed a strategic partnership with Solana Foundation, a non-profit organisation dedicated to decentralisation, adoption, and security on Solana network. This significant partnership is dedicated to enhancing Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) solutions and advancing blockchain innovation. The initiative aligns with ADGM’s strategic vision of becoming a central hub for technology-driven financial services.

Through proactive measures in enhancing regulatory frameworks and investor confidence ADGM continues to play a pivotal role in fostering financial stability and driving economic growth, through regulatory collaboration with the world’s leading regulators. Hence the Registration Authority (RA) of ADGM became a member of the International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR), reinforcing its commitment to sustaining regulatory frameworks and allocating resources that actively foster excellence in audit practices that help serve the public interest.

2024 is the year of transitioning businesses on Al Reem Island for ADGM, which is underway with several initiatives being announced and implemented during Q1 2024 to support the businesses migration process.

In addition to a series of awareness sessions and focus group meetings organised by the RA of ADGM for representatives of businesses on Al Reem Island, ADGM launched its information centre in Shams Boutik Mall, in Al Reem Island. This centre is offering comprehensive support and actively gathering feedback to engage with businesses and provide step-by-step guidance for registration within ADGM.

The launch of the centre was followed by ADGM’s first community event on Al Reem Island. Over 500 representatives from diverse businesses based on Al Reem Island participated in the event. Additionally, officials from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED) and the Department of Municipalities and Transport – Abu Dhabi (DMT), were present to interact and engage with the attendees.

The community event provided a platform for ADGM to unveil a new incentive initiative tailored exclusively for businesses based on Al Reem Island, operating in non-financial and retail sectors. Under this incentive initiative, eligible businesses on the island will be relieved from any fees associated with acquiring an ADGM commercial licence until 31 October 2024. This proactive measure is designed to facilitate a seamless transition for these businesses, allowing them to sustain their operations without additional financial obligations as they transition from being an ADDED licensed entity to an ADGM one.