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 Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market (FSRA, ADGM)
Australia Australian Securities and investments Commission (ASIC)
Australia Australian Prudential Regulation Authority (APRA)
Belgium L’Autorité des Services et Marchés Financiers (FSMA)
(Financial Services and Markets Authority)
Canada Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI)
Cayman Islands Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA)
China China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) (plus supplementary MoU on crisis management)
China China Securities Regulatory Commission (CSRC)
Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC)
Cyprus Central Bank Of Cyprus
Denmark The Danish Financial Supervisory Authority (Finanstilsynet)
Dubai Dubai Police
Dubai Public Prosecution Department
Egypt Egyptian Financial Supervisory Authority (EFSA)
Europe European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) (re Credit Rating Agencies)
Europe European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) (re Compliance Monitoring of CCPs)
France Banque de France
France L’Autorité des Marchés Financiers (AMF)
(French Markets Authority)
Germany Bundesanstalt fur finanzdienstleistungsaufsicht (BaFin)
Greece Hellenic Capital Market Commission (HCMC)
Guernsey Financial Services Commission (FSC)
Iceland Fjármálaeftirlitið
(The Financial Supervisory Authority)
Ireland Central Bank of Ireland [formerly the Irish Financial Services Regulatory Authority(IFSRA)]
Isle of Man Isle of Man Financial Service Authority (IOMFSA). (An integration of  Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC), and  Insurance Pensions Authority (IPA))
Italy Banca d’Italia (BI)
(Bank of Italy)
Italy Commissione Nazionale per le Societa e la Borsa (CONSOB)
India Securities and Exchange Board of India (SEBI)
India The Reserve Bank of India (RBI)
Indonesia Otoritas Jasa Keuangan (OJK)
Financial Services Authority of Indonesia
Japan Financial Services Agency (FSA)
Japan Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF) and Ministry of Economy, Trade and Industry (METI)
Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC)
Jordan Insurance Commission (IC)
Jordan Central Bank of Jordan (CBI)
Jordan Jordan Securities Commission (JSC)
Kuwait Capital Markets Authority (CMA)
Lebanon Capital Markets Authority (CMA)
Lebanon The Banking Control Commission of Lebanon (BCCL)
Luxembourg Commission de Surveillance du Secteur Financier (CSSF)
(Financial Sector Supervisory Commission)
Malaysia Securities Commission (SC) – On Co-operation and Exchange of Information
Malaysia Securities Commission (SC) – On Marketing and Distribution of Islamic Funds
Malaysia Bank Negara – On the Development of Islamic Banking and Finance
Malta Financial Services Authority (MFSA)
Mauritius Financial Services Commission (FSC)
Netherlands De Nederlandsche Bank (DNB)
New York State New York Department of Financial Services [Previously known as New York State Banking Department]
New Zealand The Financial Markets Authority (FMA), [Previously known as Securities Commission (SC)]
Oman Capital Markets Authority (CMA)
Portugal Banco de Portugal
Qatar Qatar Financial Centre Regulatory Authority (QFCRA)
Singapore Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)
South Africa Financial Services Board (FSB)
South Africa The Bank Supervision Department of the South African Reserve Bank (BSD)
South Korea Finansinspektionen (FI)
Switzerland Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC)
Sweden Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority (FINMA)
Finansinspektionen (FI)
Taiwan Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taipei (FSC)
Turkey Capital Markets Board (SPK)
Turkey Banking Regulation and Supervision  Agency (BDDK)
UAE Securities and Commodities Authority (SCA)
UAE Central Bank of the UAE (CBUAE)
UAE Anti-Money Laundering Suspicious Cases Unit (AMLSCU) of the CBUAE
UAE The Insurance Authority (IA)
UAE Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) –aeCERT
United Kingdom Prudential Regulation Authority (PRA), [since subsumed into The Bank of England]
United Kingdom Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
United States

Commodity and Futures Trading Commission (CFTC)

United States The Federal Reserve, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC). [The fourth signatory, “The Office of Thrift Supervision (OTS)” was abolished in 2011]
United States The Public Company Accounting Oversight Board (PCAOB)

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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.