How We Regulate

In fulfilling its mandate as the sole independent financial services regulator for the DIFC, the DFSA performs a number of functions.

  • Policy and Rulemaking
  • Authorisation
  • Recognition
  • Supervision
  • Enforcement
  • International Co-operation

The DFSA’s stated approach is: “To be a risk-based regulator and to avoid unnecessary regulatory burden”. We believe regulation should be directed to the mitigation of risks that would otherwise be unacceptable. We also believe that compliance obligations should be proportionate to the mitigation of those risks within a framework that enables regulated entities to effectively and efficiently meet their compliance obligations.

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Under this model, we set priorities for the use of our resources and have adopted a continuous risk management cycle which identifies, assesses, prioritises and mitigates unacceptable risks to our regulatory objectives or a particular sector of our financial services industry. We recognise that these risks may arise from within or outside the DIFC so we regularly monitor regional and international financial markets and trends. This systematic assessment of risk allows us to identify common issues across our regulated community and to undertake necessary thematic work in response.

Our risk-based philosophy applies to all divisions of the DFSA and all our dealings with regulated entities. We believe that focusing more on outcomes rather than the way they should be achieved, results in more effective and efficient risk-based regulation.

The DFSA believes that it is appropriate to clearly and regularly state our approach to regulation to ensure it is clearly understood by all external and internal stakeholders. Our Approach to Regulation together with the DFSA Vision, Mission and Values form the foundation upon which we do our work.

Policy and Rulemaking

The Regulatory Law 2004 gives the DFSA Board of Directors the general power to make rules regarding all matters that are related to our objectives, powers and functions. The rulemaking process normally includes a period of public consultation which gives interested persons the opportunity to comment on the proposed rules. We consider these comments to be a valuable input. Our rulemaking power also allows us to respond quickly and efficiently to matters, trends and events affecting the DIFC



International Co-operation

To achieve our objectives, the DFSA continues to forge close ties with other regulatory agencies within Dubai and the UAE, as well as with international regulators and organisations. Access to public information can sometimes be difficult for fellow regulators outside our jurisdiction so a number of links to local registers, the DIFC's two exchanges, DIFC Court decisions, local and English language news sources and telephone directories are provided here. In the context of non-public information, the DFSA actively pursues alliances and the creation of Memoranda of Understanding with our counterpart regulators. While the DIFC's Regulatory Law governs, these Memoranda facilitate the way in which regulators can assist each other in the pursuit of individual and common objectives, including through the exchange of information and the use of enforcement powers.

Memoranda of Understanding

MoUs signed by the DFSA

The traditional mechanism for formalising co-operation between regulatory authorities in different jurisdictions is a bi-lateral Memorandum of Understanding (MoU).

There is no magic in an MoU. It simply provides a formal basis for co-operation between regulatory authorities, including the exchange of information and investigative assistance, based on existing laws. This means it cannot make lawful a release of information that would otherwise be unlawful nor can it compel assistance that can only be voluntary.

It should be noted that the lack of a MoU is no impediment to sharing information and giving assistance to a fellow regulator as the DFSA's authority to share and assist is based on specific provisions in the Regulatory Law.

Multi-lateral MoUs

  • The International Organisation of Securities Commissions (IOSCO)
  • The Boca Declaration
  • International Association of Insurance Supervisors (IAIS)
  • IOSCO Africa and Middle East Regional Committee (AMERC)
  • The International Forum of Independent Audit Regulators (IFIAR)



Bi-lateral MoUs

Abu Dhabi  Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market
AIFC Astana Financial Services Autthority
Australia Australian Prudential Regulation Authority
Australia Australian Securities and Investments Commission
Bahrain Central Bank of Bahrain
Belgium L’Autorité des Services et Marchés Financiers
Canada Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions
Cayman Islands Cayman Islands Monetary Authority
China China Banking Insurance Regulatory Commission (as CBRC)
China China Securities Regulatory Commission
Cyprus Central Bank Of Cyprus
Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission
Denmark Finanstilsynet
Egypt Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority
Europe European Securities and Markets Authority (re Credit Rating Agencies)
Europe European Securities and Markets Authority (re Central Counterparties)
France Banque de France
France L’Autorité des Marchés Financiers
Germany Bundesanstalt fur finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin)
Greece Hellenic Capital Market Commission
Guernsey Financial Services Commission
Hong Kong Securities and Futures Commission
Iceland The Financial Supervisory Authority
India Reserve Bank of India
India Securities and Exchange Board of India
Indonesia Otoritas Jasa Keuangan
Ireland Central Bank of Ireland
Isle of Man Financial Services Authority
Italy Banca d’Italia
Italy Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa
Japan Financial Services Authority
Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries 
Japan Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry
Jersey Financial Services Commission
Jordan Central Bank of Jordan
Jordan Insurance Commission
Jordan Jordan Securities Commission
Kuwait Capital Markets Authority
Lebanon Banking Control Commission of Lebanon
Lebanon Capital Markets Authority
Luxembourg Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier
Malaysia Bank Negara - Islamic Finance
Malaysia Securities Commission (SC) – On Co-operation and Exchange of Information
Malaysia Securities Commission (SC) – On Marketing and Distribution of Islamic Funds
Malta Financial Services Authority
Mauritius Financial Services Commission
Netherlands Authority for the Financial Markets
Netherlands De Nederlandsche Bank
New Zealand The Financial Markets Authority
Oman Capital Markets Authority
Oman Central Bank of Oman
Portugal Banco de Portugal
Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority
Russia Central Bank of The Russian Federation
Singapore Monetary Authority of Singapore
South Africa Financial Sector Conduct Authority
South Africa The Bank Supervision Department of the South African Reserve Bank
South Korea Financial Supervisory Commission
Switzerland Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority
Sweden Finansinspektionen
Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taipei
Thailand Securities and Exchange Commission
Turkey Capital Markets Board
Turkey Banking Regulation and Supervision Agency
UAE Financial Intelligence Department
UAE Central Bank of the UAE
UAE Dubai Police
UAE Insurance Authority
UAE Public Prosecution Department - Dubai
UAE Securities and Commodities Authority
UAE Telecommunication Regulatory Authority –aeCERT
United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority
United Kingdom Prudential Regulation Authority
United States Commodity and Futures Trading Commission
United States New York Department of Financial Services
United States The Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (and what was known as “Office of Thrift Supervision” (which ceased to be in 2011)
United States The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board

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Recognised Jurisdiction Notice

Under the Collective Investment Law 2010, the DFSA may recognise certain countries and territories where it is satisfied that the law and practice under which such funds are regulated in these jurisdictions are broadly equivalent to the DFSA's collective investment regime. The DFSA will also designate certain types of funds in such jurisdictions.

The DFSA has also entered into a Mutual Recognition Agreement with the Securities Commission Malaysia with respect to the cross-border marketing and offering of Islamic funds.

A full list of recognised jurisdictions can be obtained under Legal Framework.

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The DFSA’s stated approach is: “To be a risk-based regulator and to avoid unnecessary regulatory burden”. We believe regulation should be directed to the mitigation of risks that would otherwise be unacceptable. We also believe that compliance obligations should be proportionate to the mitigation of those risks within a framework that enables regulated entities to effectively and efficiently meet their compliance obligations.

Under this model, we set priorities for the use of our resources and have adopted a continuous risk management cycle which identifies, assesses, prioritises and mitigates unacceptable risks to our regulatory objectives or a particular sector of our financial services industry. We recognise that these risks may arise from within or outside the DIFC so we regularly monitor regional and international financial markets and trends. This systematic assessment of risk allows us to identify common issues across our regulated community and to undertake necessary thematic work in response.

Our risk-based philosophy applies to all divisions of the DFSA and all our dealings with regulated entities. We believe that focusing more on outcomes rather than the way they should be achieved, results in more effective and efficient risk-based regulation.

The DFSA believes that it is appropriate to clearly and regularly state our approach to regulation to ensure it is clearly understood by all external and internal stakeholders. Our Approach to Regulation together with the DFSA’s Vision, Mission and Values form the foundation upon which we do our work.

Regulatory Due Diligence Links

To assist our fellow regulators, particularly in fulfilling their licensing and registration responsibilities, the DFSA has joined other members of IOSCO in an initiative to provide enhanced access to publicly available information. The following links to local registers, the DIFC's two exchanges, DIFC Court decisions, local and national English language news sources and telephone directories are provided here to answer preliminary enquiries and to facilitate the due diligence process.

Requests from regulators and other agencies for non-public information should be directed to the DSFA's Director of International Relations and will be dealt with under existing bi-lateral or multi-lateral protocols.Even in the absence of a Memorandum of Understanding, requests will be dealt with according to the DIFC Regulatory Law and the DFSA's Policy Statement on Confidential Regulatory Information.