The Oversight Committee of Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF) met to assess the Fund's significant achievements to date and outline future strategies aimed at enhancing the entrepreneurial ecosystem in Dubai and the broader UAE.
The Oversight Committee reviewed DFDF’s completion of over 25 investments since its inception in 2022 and discussed the AED1 billion fund’s mission to enhance Dubai's venture capital ecosystem by driving sustainable finance and innovation on a global scale.
Launched 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 Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), DFDF is a collaborative effort between the DIFC and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).
The meeting saw the participation of Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC; Khalfan Belhoul, Chairman of the Dubai Future District Fund's Board of Directors and CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation; Arif Amiri, CEO of the Dubai International Financial Center Authority and board member of the Dubai Future District Fund; Jacques Visser, Chief Legal Officer at the DIFC Authority; and Sharif El-Badawi, CEO of the Dubai Future District Fund.
DFDF further reinforced its commitment to sustainability and climate technology by earmarking up to 20 percent of its AED1 billion fund for supporting climate technology and innovation in December 2023, a move that was welcomed by the Oversight Committee and aligned with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the UAE Net Zero 2050 strategy.
As DFDF embarks on its third year of operations, the Oversight Committee acknowledged the fund’s key achievements of the past year, including 14 new investments in five startups and three follow-on investments as well as six fund investments that are innovating in the Future of Finance and Future Economies sectors in Dubai.
The Oversight Committee also hailed the fund’s capacity building efforts of the inaugural DFDF Venture Fellows programme, where 12 aspiring Emirati professionals and entrepreneurs participated in the Venture Capital Fund Simulation programme which drew 40 participants from the UAE venture capital ecosystem.
The Committee emphasised the importance of supporting startups in their growth journey to become successful, internationally active scale-ups and underscored the role of venture capital investment in supporting startups, not only through funding but also by creating value in the portfolio companies, scaling operations, and strengthening corporate governance.
The meeting also highlighted the collaborative efforts of government and private sector leaders to drive innovation, support startups, contributing to the UAE's transition to a sustainable future. DFDF remains a key player in this journey, actively shaping the landscape of innovation and investment in the region.
Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, commented, “DFDF’s growth journey is encouraging and epitomises the vision for Dubai’s venture capital landscape by pioneering sustainable finance, catalysing global innovation, and aligning with strategic missions such as the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and UAE Net Zero 2050. The Oversight Committee’s recognition of DFDF’s role in fostering scale-ups and the collaborative drive toward a sustainable future underscores the pivotal partnership between public and private sectors in shaping Dubai’s innovation trajectory."
Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation and Chairman of DFDF, confirmed that DFDF contributed significantly during the previous period to strengthening the entrepreneurship scene in the city of Dubai in fulfillment of the leadership’s vision that Dubai is the best destination for emerging companies and entrepreneurs and the ideal incubator for business expansion in the region and the world starting from Dubai.
He added, “During the coming period, the Fund will focus on continuing its efforts to provide an integrated system to support emerging companies and provide financing, expertise, guidance, and other support programmes such as business accelerators and capacity building initiatives, in a way that contributes to enhancing their ability to grow and benefit from the business-friendly environment that stimulates innovation.”
Arif Amiri, Chief Executive Officer, DIFC Authority and Board Member of DFDF, said, "DFDF stands as a beacon in Dubai's venture capital landscape, co-anchored by Dubai International Finance Centre. The fund’s commitment to climate technology, coupled with a strong investment strategy, has propelled over 25 ventures and continues to nurture international and Emirati talent through its bespoke venture-building programmes. This steadfast dedication marks DFDF as a driving force in shaping the future of sustainable innovation, talent and growth."
Sharif El-Badawi, Chief Executive Officer, Dubai Future District Fund, said, "In 2023, DFDF championed the fusion of sustainable finance with global innovation, proudly contributing to Dubai's emergence as a venture capital powerhouse. Our collaborations with DIFC and Dubai Future Foundation have been pivotal, aligning with the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and UAE Net Zero 2050 to propel over 25 ventures and cultivate a diverse talent pool. As we advance, our commitment deepens to nurturing startups and driving sustainable growth, ensuring DFDF's role in shaping a vibrant, innovation-driven future for Dubai. With steadfast dedication, we look forward to a year of transformative impact, reinforcing our promise to foster a sustainable and prosperous tomorrow."
UAE startups account for an impressive 52 percent of all venture deals in the MENA region, with 44 percent of all venture capital having a presence in the UAE.