Dubai Future District Fund highlights sustainability, innovation at Annual General Meeting 2024

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DUBAI, 6th March, 2024 (WAM) — The Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF) today held its Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 2023 performance at the Museum of the Future in Dubai, uniting efforts between public and private sectors to amplify the UAE’s innovation ecosystem through strategic venture investments.

established by H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Finance, and President of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), and co-anchored by Dubai International Financial Centre and Dubai Future Foundation (DFF),

The DFDF AGM serves as a cornerstone for reviewing the Fund’s remarkable progress in its second year of operation, and attracted distinguished attendees, including government officials, investors, and top executives from leading national corporations, including Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy; Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Remote Work Applications; Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Member of the DFDF Oversight Committee; Khalfan Belhoul, Chairman of the DFDF Board and CEO of DFF; Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC and member of the DFDF Board; and Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of DFDF.

The AGM included keynotes from high-profile attendees and panel discussions with entrepreneurs, investors, and thought leaders, covering collaborative initiatives driving innovation, adopting new technologies, further delving into the Fund’s forward-looking strategies.

In his keynote speech on “Sustainability in Finance and Climate”, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, UAE Minister of Economy, said, “In pursuit of its strategic goal, the UAE, under the directives of its wise leadership, aims to double the national economy’s gross domestic product over the next decade. The Ministry of Economy, alongside its partners, is dedicated to achieving this objective, focusing on sectors such as the circular economy, sustainability, and entrepreneurship. In these sectors, the UAE has crafted a sustainable economic strategy grounded in foundational pillars such as research and development, innovation, and technology.”

He added, “The UAE is focused on activating opportunities within the circular economy, clean energy, smart transportation, sustainable aviation, and agricultural technology sectors with the aim of transitioning towards a diversified, knowledge-based economy. The UAE offers a number of incentives and initiatives to support small and medium-sized companies and venture capitalists in the green economy sectors. In addition, it supports strengthening partnerships and enhancing the private sector’s competitiveness to foster innovation.”

In his remarks, Bin Touq also commended DFDF for its critical role in unlocking high-quality economic opportunities, driving the creation of a diverse and sustainable economy. He highlighted how these efforts boost the nation’s competitiveness and encourage ongoing innovation and substantial investments across various sectors.

The ambitious ‘We the UAE 2031’ strategy aims to double the UAE’s GDP to AED 3 trillion by 2031, focusing on social, economic, investment and development aspects to enhance its global economic influence and attractiveness. It presents a unified strategy for government and private sector collaboration to foster development, support leading companies, and encourage new ventures, all while integrating sustainability across all economic activities.

During the meeting, DFDF outlined its significant contributions to enhancing Dubai’s venture capital landscape. With an initial allocation of AED 1 billion, the Fund has been instrumental in energising the local venture ecosystem. It has made strategic investments across 14 start-ups and funds, comprising 5 new start-ups, 3 follow-on investments, and 6 fund commitments. In total, DFDF has supported over 25 projects, leading to a substantial broadening of its investment portfolio and achieving an impressive 84 per cent increase in talent within these ventures.

DFDF also allocated 20 percent of its AED 1 billion fund to help accelerate sustainable technology and innovation start-ups and scale-ups. The progress further underscores the Fund’s commitment to the UAE’s sustainability objectives and the ambitious ‘We the UAE 2031’ strategy to escalate the nation’s GDP to AED 3 trillion by 2031.

The AGM further underscores DFDF’s vital role in cementing the UAE’s reputation as a global economic leader and a thriving landscape for innovative tech start-ups. By prioritising advanced technologies such as AI, robotics, and blockchain, DFDF is crafting a foundation for a sustainable, diversified global economy.

Khalfan Belhoul, Chairman of the DFDF Board and CEO of DFF, underscored Dubai’s enduring commitment as a global hub for future technologies and novel economic ventures. He hailed DFDF as a key player in connecting innovative thinkers with financial backers, thereby acting as a dynamic engine for new economic opportunities in Dubai by supporting entrepreneurs and their visionary projects.

During his welcome remarks, Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer of DIFC and member of the DFDF Board, emphasised Dubai’s appeal to regional and international companies, attributing this to its dynamic, supportive business environment and future-forward infrastructure. He noted that initiatives like DFDF are instrumental in nurturing companies focused on future economies and technology, positioning Dubai as a nurturing ground for ambitious projects by attracting significant investments and top talent.

Amiri said, “As DIFC continues to drive forward Dubai’s position as a leading global hub for finance and innovation, collaboration with growth enablers such as the DFDF are alpha and omega to provide access to funding, world-class platforms for ideation, incubation, acceleration, and by attracting the brightest minds to future-proof the sector. This approach ensures the creation of a vibrant ecosystem that supports socio-economic impact and aligns with the long-term vision of our leadership.”

Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of DFDF, highlighted the Fund’s pivotal role in establishing the Middle East’s leading region for the new economy industry. By offering financial support and business opportunities, DFDF aids emerging companies in their journey towards listing on Dubai’s financial markets. This, in turn, boosts investor confidence and cements Dubai’s status as a premier location for the development and expansion of innovative projects on a local, regional, and global scale. “This year’s AGM was a testament to our ongoing commitment to sustainable financial growth and to making a tangible impact on the environment and society”, El-Badawi said.

In the “Creating a Sustainable Ecosystem for Tech Startups in Dubai” panel session, moderated by Nader Albastaki, Managing Director of DFDF, Jeff Harbach, DFDF IC member and CEO of Kauffman Fellows; Huda Al Lawti, Founder and CEO of Aliph Capital; and Mahmoud Adi, Founding Partner at Shorooq Partners, explored the crucial aspects of fostering a supportive environment for technology companies emerging in Dubai, aiming for regional and global expansion.

During a panel session titled “Flamini’s Green Revolution: Championing Sustainability, Innovation, and Legacy”, former Arsenal player and GF Biochemicals Co-founder Mathieu Flamini shared his transition from sports to advocating for a green economy, emphasising the role of wealthy investors in promoting sustainable development paths worldwide.