Abu Dhabi Finance Week

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Last week’s 2023 edition of Abu Dhabi Finance Week (“ADFW 2023") was a great success.

The event was highly anticipated as the most influential finance, investment, and economic event in the MENA region.  Building upon the success of the inaugural edition in 2022, which attracted over 8,000 participants from 100+ countries, ADFW 2023 clearly exceeded the previous number of participants. The event was themed “Investing in The Transition Era”, and gathered global financial industry leaders to delve into the opportunities and challenges presented by economic, technological, and sustainability shifts. It set a unique platform to explore the impact of these changes on the financial world.  Gulfsands PLC CEO, John Bell and GMEL COO, Rodolfo Rustria were delighted to attend and, in addition to the formal sessions, had the chance to have several enlightening meetings during the event.


During the opening ceremony, H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (“ADDED”) and Abu Dhabi Global Market (“ADGM”), highlighted the remarkable growth of the financial sector in the UAE. which plays a pivotal role in driving the UAE’s economic diversification agenda. H.E. Al Zaabi also emphasized that the non-oil sector, now accounts for nearly 54% of the overall GDP,  reflecting the nation’s dynamic economic growth and diversified strength.

ADGM, the Emirate’s international financial free zone which hosted the event, also achieved a significant milestone during ADFW 2023, announcing that 14 major financial institutions, with a combined Assets Under Management (“AUM”) of $452 billion, plan to establish operations in the heart of the UAE’s capital.

Esteemed global leaders discussed Abu Dhabi’s evolving “Falcon Economy” and commended Abu Dhabi’s rise as a global finance hub.  Among well known names, Brevan Howard, with AUM exceeding $35 billion,   recently opened an outpost in the UAE capital and Ray Dalio, former CIO of one of the world’s largest hedge fund, Bridgewater Associates, also established a branch of his family office in ADGM, all illustrating the success of ADGM to attract big hedge funds, venture capital firms, and crypto companies in recent times.  Abu Dhabi’s efforts to attract international sovereign funds and financial firms have also been successful, with sovereign wealth funds overseeing around $1.5 trillion now present in Abu Dhabi.

With COP28 following shortly after ADFW 2023, finance as a critical enabler for meaningful global change in respect of Climate Change was a popular and engaging topic of discussion.  Leveraging its historical role as a trading crossroad, the UAE aspires to become a hub for green finance and carbon trading, aligning with its vision for a net zero future.  Mariam Almheiri, UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment, stressed the need to make climate finance accessible and affordable to developing countries, and noted that “The UAE believes that climate action is good for growth — for creating new industries, new technologies, and new sustainable jobs for generations to come”.

H.E. Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of ADGM, declared the event as the most successful week in ADGM’s history.

It was indeed a fantastic event which helped illustrate ADGM’s pivotal role in contributing to Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification plans and solidifies its position as a comprehensive financial hub.  Gulfsands is proud to have its MENA hub in such a dynamic and vibrant location.

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