DUBAI, Feb 20 (Reuters) - Dubai International Financial Centre could beat its target of more than doubling the number of financial firms registered within it by 2024 if interest continues from markets such as China, India and the Middle East, the governor of the financial free zone said on Monday.
The state-owned financial free zone in 2014 set a target of reaching 1,000 financial firms by 2024.
The total hit 447 in 2016, up by 10 percent from the previous year.
"If we continue to achieve the same growth rates as we did in the past two years of our strategy we might be able to exceed some of our targets by 2024," Essa Kazim, governor of DIFC and chairman of DIFC Authority told a news conference.
Its other targets include expanding DIFC's workforce to 50,000 and growing the combined balance sheet of firms within it to $400 billion.
The workforce hit 21,611 in 2016, while the combined balance sheet reached $144 billion.
In 2017, there is a strong pipeline of firms interested in setting up, especially banks from the Middle East, China and India, Kazim told Reuters.
Many of those set up in the first phase of DIFC after its launch in 2004 were banks, insurers and others from Europe and the United States.
More recently, growth has accelerated from Asian and Middle Eastern companies.
Around 45 percent of its financial services firms are now from Asia and the Middle East, Kazim said, adding this could top 50 percent in the coming years.
"Today, emerging market economies like India and China are growing much faster than Europe and the United States and that's a reflection of their financial institutions, which are looking to expand," he told Reuters. (Editing by Jason Neely)