An Italian delegation led by Luigi Di Maio, Minister of Foreign Affairs, visited the Dubai Future Foundation (DFF) to learn more about the pivotal role the Foundation plays in shaping the future through various initiatives, as well as its global efforts in attracting startups, entrepreneurs and talent to the region.
Khalfan Belhoul, CEO of DFF, Abdulaziz Al Jaziri, Deputy CEO and COO of DFF, and several department heads accompanied the visitors on a tour around AREA 2071, and briefed them on the Foundation’s main initiatives and projects, including Dubai Future Labs, UAE Regulations Lab and Dubai Future Accelerators.
The two parties discussed ways to step up cooperation in supporting startups and entrepreneurs, and exchange information, experience and best practices in innovation, designing the future, building a knowledge-based economy and creating a conducive environment for developing new economic sectors.
The visit coincided with the conclusion of the second edition of the Global Startup Program, an initiative of the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation organized by DFF in partnership with the Italian Trade Agency (ITA) at AREA 2071. After the inaugural 2020 edition took place virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the UAE was the first country to host the program in residence.
Di Maio praised the Foundation’s successful hosting of the Program as he engaged with the participating startups and teams behind this hosting. Additionally, he commended the Foundation’s efforts to support innovators and entrepreneurs, encourage startups to develop innovative ideas and leverage advanced technologies to address global challenges.
Khalfan Belhoul highlighted that DFF’s first government-to-government acceleration program allowed Italian startups to learn about the business, innovation and investment opportunities available in Dubai and the wider UAE, and explore the country’s enabling innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem. He highlighted the Foundation’s keenness to enhance knowledge sharing with government and private sector entities in Italy with the aim of driving innovation and progress
Drawing the participation of 11 Italian startups from a wide range of sectors, the second edition of the program resulted in two pilot projects in the pipeline, the signing of cooperation agreements with more than 10 business partners, as well as several promising investment prospects. More than half of the cohort expressed interest to establish offices in the UAE.
The friendly relations between the UAE and Italy span more than 50 years. The UAE is Italy’s largest trading partner among the countries of the GCC region, accounting for 80 percent of mutual trade, equivalent to seven percent of Italy’s total foreign trade volume. Recently, the two countries have strengthened their cooperation in the fields of government, culture, education and innovation.