15 Nov 2021

Dubai rolls out Dh1b Future District Fund

Dubai rolls out Dh1b Future District Fund
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The fund seeks to support emerging companies in the technology sector and encourage successful digital companies to list in Dubai’s financial markets

Dubai rolled out on Monday a Dh1 billion Future District Fund for investing in startups operating out of the new hi-tech district dedicated to the new economy.

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, took to Twitter to announce that the fund seeks to support emerging companies in the technology sector and encourage successful digital companies to list in Dubai’s financial markets.

“Mohammed bin Rashid’s future bet is the digital economy.”

“In implementation of the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and Crown Prince Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum to support the digital economy sector, we launched today the Dubai Future District Fund with one billion dirhams to invest in emerging companies. We approved the appointment of Sharif Al Badawi as executive director of the Fund,” Sheikh Maktoum, who is also the UAE Minister of Finance, said.

“The fund aims to realise the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to establish 1,000 tech companies in the next five years, by supporting Dubai’s digital economy and companies that adopt future technologies and develop new economic sectors of the future.”

Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed stressed that the Dubai Future District Fund supports national efforts and strategies aimed at enabling entrepreneurs to reach new horizons, realise Dubai’s aspirations for the new economy, and contribute to enhancing the emirate’s status as a preferred destination for global talent that offers an integrated investment environment and exceptional facilities.

In January 2020, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, announced that a new district under the name of 'Dubai Future District' dedicated to the new economy would take shape in the emirate as Dubai positions itself to become the world’s capital of the new economy.

The Future District will see Dubai World Trade Centre, DWTC, Emirates Towers and Dubai International Financial Centre, DIFC, directly connected via a bridge, making it the Middle East’s largest district dedicated to developing the new economy.

Presiding over the second meeting of the Dubai Council last year, Sheikh Mohammed said that a Dh1 billion fund would be set up to support new economy companies who will operate out of Dubai Future District, and who have the potential and foresight to drive Dubai’s new economy and contribute to enhancing the emirate's position as a preferred destination for global talents and entrepreneurs.

In 2020, the Vice-President has also announced a new Dh2 trillion target for the volume of Dubai's foreign trade by 2025, which will be supported by establishing 50 offices around the world, each tasked with promoting Dubai’s unrivalled trade, tourism and investment offerings through and intensifying and unifying of external marketing efforts.

The Dubai Future District Fund seeks to build an innovation-driven startup ecosystem to enhance the global competitiveness of Dubai’s future economy. As part of its mandate, it will invest in a range of key initiatives, including Dubai Future Accelerators, DIFC FinTech Hive and Venture Builder Studios.

The Fund is ideally positioned to attract startups from the Mena region and beyond that can develop innovative solutions for future local, regional and global challenges. It will also support the scale-up of top-performing startups through growth capital and follow-on rounds of investment and attract VC firms to Dubai through a fund of funds programme.

To achieve its objectives, the Fund will leverage emerging technologies, such as AI, cybersecurity, blockchain, data analytics, software-as-a-service (SaaS)/platform-as-a-service (PaaS), cloud solutions, 5G, IoT, augmented reality and robotics.

Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, noted that the launch of the Dubai Future District Fund constitutes a new step in consolidating the UAE’s leadership in digital economy while boosting Dubai’s attractiveness as a global destination for innovators and startups specialised in future technology. It also contributed to the success of many VCs and tech-driven startups such as: Careem, Mumzworld, Souq and others.

He added that investing in the development of the entrepreneurial ecosystem is a major pillar of national efforts to diversify the economy, support local talent and attract global expertise. He also highlighted the importance of providing appropriate financing options for emerging companies to develop and implement their ideas and expand their businesses.

Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC, said: “Innovation has always been a cornerstone of DIFC’s strategy, delivering on the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.”

He added: “DIFC continues to be the business destination of choice in the region for businesses focused on innovation and the new economy. They will benefit from the Dubai Future District Fund and in turn contribute to Dubai’s economic growth. The fund and other key initiatives emanating from the Dubai Future District will allow us to continue elevating Dubai’s status as one of the world’s most advanced cities and leading financial centres.”

Helal Saeed Al Marri, director-general of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism, said: “The formation of the Dubai Future District Fund is a significant milestone in the emirate’s journey to become a global entrepreneurship hub, fast-tracking our new economy development agenda ahead of most other nations in today’s new normal. Providing capital for startups and scale-ups across the innovation and technology ecosystem positions Dubai as a magnet not only for top talent but also for the international investor community. Reflecting the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Fund testifies to our commitment to delivering the most conducive value proposition for sector-agnostic business growth.”

Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of DFF, said that His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's vision for the future of Dubai resulted in the development of a unique ecosystem to design the future through testing and adoption of the latest innovative technologies. He also highlighted the importance of public-private partnerships in achieving this vision.

He added: “The Dubai Future District Fund will help accelerate Dubai's journey towards the future, as well as the positive outcomes of investing in the tech sector to support fields such as health, education, finance and government services, and the practical implementation of specialised projects in the economy of the future.”

Khalfan Belhoul noted that the Fund provides an interactive platform that brings together government and investment agencies with innovators, startups and entrepreneurs with the aim of enabling them to leverage the Fund’s facilities, initiatives and financing options to enhance their contribution to developing the most promising emerging sectors.

Arif Amiri, CEO of DIFC Authority, said: “DIFC is playing a crucial role in helping Dubai become a leading global start-up hub and developing its innovation proposition. We have already built the largest and most comprehensive FinTech and innovation ecosystem in the region which has resulted in over 60 per cent of start-ups in the GCC making the DIFC Innovation Hub their home. We will work with these start-ups to leverage the Dubai Future District Fund whilst applying our expertise to drive both the future of finance and future economies more broadly. In turn, we will be supporting efforts to realise Dubai’s ambitions for the digital era.”

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