Dubai Future District Fund's First Annual General Meeting Hails The Emirate's Forward-Thinking Attitude Toward The Future "I love the champion mentality here in Dubai," said Novak Djokovic at the event. "I love that people here want to be the best in the world."

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His Excellency Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF)

A multitude of personalities came together at the Museum of the Future in Dubai on March 21, 2023 for the first annual general meeting of the Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF).

Held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, Chairman of the Executive Council, and Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF), the meeting explored Dubai's efforts at furthering its position on the global technology landscape.

"Betting on the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution is something that needs to happen," said H.E. Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of DFF and Chairman of DFDF, at the event. "H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum has insisted that we continue this thinking, and continue to invest in the digital economy and the fourth industrial revolution."

Dubai Future District Fund CEO Sharif El-Badawi. Source: DFDF

DFDF CEO Sharif El-Badawi also addressed the gathering at the event, noting how the fund he leads strives to transform Dubai into a global business hub and future economy by investing in innovative and sustainable technology startups, attracting international specialist talent, and creating jobs, while also generating shareholder returns.

In his speech, El-Badawi also highlighted his entity's DF2 fund, which is considered the region's first evergreen venture capital fund. He pointed out that DF2 aims to reach US$500 million in assets under management (AUM) by 2023, and that it aims to add another $500 million by 2024 to reach $1 billion AUM.

"We're focused on unlocking high productivity sectors through innovative companies with a focus on high-impact regional startups creating knowledge-based jobs," El-Badawi said. "We'll tap into Dubai's growth story and access investments in the region to reinforce our growth trajectory. We will focus on the future of finance, the future of economics, and the private capital ecosystem."

Jessica Smith at DFDF's Annual General Meeting. Image courtesy DFDF.

The annual general meeting also hosted informative panel discussions featuring prominent entrepreneurs and investors like Wamda Capital's Fadi Ghandour and Shorooq Partners' Mahmoud Adi, as well as inspirational keynotes and fireside chats featuring acclaimed global personalities like former Australian paralympic swimmer Jessica Smith and Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic.

Fitted with a prosthetic limb when she was 18 months old, and then suffering third-degree burns to 15% of her body as a toddler, Smith remembered medical professionals seeing her as "broken and incomplete"- but she also noted how she never allowed such commentary to deter her from chasing her goals. "We are no longer looking at disability through a medical lens, but a social one," Smith said. "We realize people are more disabled by their social environment than their own disabilities."

Novak Djokovic with CNN Abu Dhabi anchor Becky Anderson. Source: DFDF

Meanwhile, Djokovic, in a conversation with CNN Abu Dhabi Managing Editor Becky Anderson, discussed the "trials and tribulations" he faced as a young child growing up in conflict-hit Serbia, and how those experiences helped him become one of greatest-ever men's tennis players.

Djokovic then went on to laud the UAE's "culture of innovation," which he noted has had a major positive impact around the world. "I want to have Dubai as a base for my business and innovation," the 35-year-old said. "I love the champion mentality here in Dubai. I love that people here want to be the best in the world. And I'm sure that with this kind of mentality and approach, they will become the leaders."

Anchored by the DFF and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), DFDF was launched by the Emirate's Securities and Exchange Higher Committee in 2021, and it aims to support innovative ideas and projects, and develop new solutions, products, and services from Dubai.

Related: How Dubai Is Putting In The Work To Become The Next Digital Economy Capital Of The World

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