DIFC gate building. Image courtesy: DIFC

The Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF) has reaffirmed its dedication to sustainability by allocating a substantial 20 percent, amounting to AED 200 million, from its AED 1 billion fund to support climate technology and innovation. This significant announcement, coinciding with COP28’s Finance Day, highlights DFDF’s pivotal role in shaping a sustainable and innovative future, in harmony with the broader vision of the United Arab Emirates for economic diversification and sustainable development.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Finance, DFDF stands as a collaborative initiative between the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF). This commitment underscores DFDF’s core mission of fortifying Dubai’s venture capital ecosystem, further solidifying its pledge to propel sustainable finance and innovation on a global scale.

Khalfan Belhoul, Chairman of DFDF and CEO of Dubai Future Foundation, emphasized:

“The substantial allocation of up to AED 200 million from DFDF to sustainable technology ventures represents more than a monetary commitment; it signifies our continued mission to enhance Dubai’s venture capital ecosystem. At the heart of DFDF’s operations is a deep focus on the Future of Finance and Future Economies; areas we believe are critical in driving forward the global agenda for sustainability and innovation.

“This approach is in clear alignment with the UAE’s broader vision for economic diversification and sustainable development, a vision supported by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. Our collaboration with DIFC is instrumental in this context, enabling us to pool resources, expertise, and networks to catalyze growth in these pivotal areas. Together, we are committed to creating a thriving ecosystem where innovation flourishes, and sustainable finance becomes the cornerstone of our economic framework.”

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority and Board Member of DFDF, stated:

“As we progress towards a more sustainable financial landscape, DIFC remains committed to fostering access to more sustainable funding. The allocation of up to 20 percent of the AED 1 billion Dubai Future District Fund represents our dedication to driving growth and supporting sustainability-focused tech and innovation ventures.

“Collaborating with the Dubai Future Foundation as founding partners exemplifies our unified pursuit of shaping the future of finance and innovation. This initiative is a testament to our Strategy 2030, emphasizing the empowerment of leading tech firms with innovative solutions aimed at addressing pressing global challenges.”

The decision to earmark a significant portion of the fund for sustainable technology ventures underscores DFDF’s steadfast commitment to shaping the future of finance and economies across the Middle East, Africa and South Asia regions of the Global South. This dedication plays a pivotal role in advancing the global agenda for sustainability and innovation, particularly in the context of the momentous developments in the Middle East. DFDF aims to work with multinational partners, foundations and government agencies to galvanize capital towards strategic Climate Tech initiatives, including venture capital and market development activities.

In 2021, the UAE took a groundbreaking step by becoming the first country in the Middle East to pledge a net zero economy by 2050. Following suit, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain swiftly joined in, marking an exciting inflection point for Climate Tech investments in the region. Achieving a net zero economy positions the MENA region among the most globally benefited, mitigating over 17% of GDP losses and generating over 1 million jobs.

As emphasized by the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), the region’s current electrification rate stands at 16%, with cautionary warnings that the established targets only fulfil 50% of the renewable energy capacity needed by 2030 to stay below the 1.5°C degree benchmark. However, the GCC countries boast a significantly competitive edge in producing solar-based electricity and green hydrogen, thanks to their status as having some of the highest solar voltaic output in the world.

This strategic move by DFDF into Climate Tech encompasses pivotal sectors such as Food and Agriculture Tech, Building Materials, and Logistics Tech. This expansion follows DFDF’s collaboration with DFF on the ‘Future of Food’ paper, underscoring their unwavering dedication to research and development in sustainability.

Sharif El Badawi, CEO of Dubai Future District Fund, added:

“DFDF is strategically allocating a considerable portion of the fund to climate technology ventures, underscoring our unwavering commitment to the COP/CIF landscape and reinforcing our focus on the Future of Food, Future of Logistics, and the overarching theme of Financial Inclusion. Our pledge extends beyond mere financial investments; it symbolizes our resolute dedication to reshaping Dubai’s venture capital landscape.

“In harmony with the UAE’s vision for economic diversification and sustainable development, as endorsed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, underscores our responsibility to the wider neighborhood of the Global South. By synergizing resources and expertise, we aim to amplify our collective impact, catalyzing growth and fostering a thriving ecosystem where innovation flourishes, and sustainable finance becomes the cornerstone of our economic framework.”

With the UAE hosting COP28, DFDF, DFF, and DIFC are united in their dedication to advancing sustainable finance and innovation. Their collective aim is to set a global benchmark for future initiatives in this field, aligning with the region’s burgeoning potential not only in Climate Tech, but also in alternative proteins. Credit Suisse estimates the worth of this sector to be a staggering US$1.4 trillion by 2050. By establishing themselves as global leaders in alternative protein production, Middle Eastern countries anticipate a significant reduction in their reliance on food imports, currently constituting 85% of the GCC’s domestic food needs. This transformative approach positions the region as a frontrunner in shaping the future of sustainable economies and global trade.