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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - DIF’s Tech Investments and Growing Interest in Technology Sector in Dubai

Tech and Innovation

DIF’s Tech Investments and Growing Interest in Technology Sector in Dubai

Dubai is going through a digital revolution powered by the ambitions of investment companies like Dubai Investment Fund (DIF) and the support of the UAE government. In 2001 Microsoft opened its first regional base in Dubai, attracted by UAE’s 50-year-rent-free incentive and a promise of 100% repatriation of capital. It started a tech trend, and soon HP, IBM, SAP, Oracle, 3M, and Google set up regional centers in Dubai.

This created a “cluster effect,” which makes Dubai an investment hub for tech companies. Today, Dubai Internet City is regarded as the Silicon Valley of the Middle East. It is home to some of the biggest billion-dollar unicorns in the Arab world like Telegram, Yalla Group, Careem, Souq, Maktoob, Property Finder, Media.Net, Vista Global, and Kitopi. 

Dubai Internet City

Under the UAE government’s vision of a Beyond Oil economy, private sector investments are exploring new ways to broaden the country’s economy. Tech remains a favorite theme for fresh investments in the region post COVID. The government actively supports private investments in tech through 100% foreign ownerships, zero corporate tax, easy exit plans for companies, robust commercial regulations, and alternate funding channels. The country has 30 free trade zones with numerous incentives for tech startups and foreign investment funds. 

Abu Dhabi Global Market Square (Formerly called Sowwah Square) Office in the financial free zone area of Al Maryah Island

The Abu Dhabi Global Markets (ADGM) free zone is home to some of the biggest private equity companies on par with emerging economies like Singapore, Malaysia, Israel, and the UK. Dubai Investment Fund (DIF) is one such company leading the change in UAE. The fund manages over $300 billion AuM and actively invests in technology companies across multiple sectors. It invests across geographies in international stock markets and foreign companies through private equity partnerships. 

Dubai Investment Fund (DIF)  started in 2001 and stayed strong through multiple cycles of inflation and recession. Its investment philosophy remains rooted in constant diversification and the discovery of new emerging technologies. DIF is rapidly expanding its tech vertical by investing in both mainstream and offbeat tech companies. 

In 2017, DIF further expanded its investment portfolio within the IT sector with new partnerships with leading tech companies and emerging startups. That year, DIF made large investments and took stakes in firms like Qualcomm, Intuit, PayPal, Booking Holdings, VMware and AutoDesk.  

«While we believe that we were extremely successful in growing the portfolio of companies we invested in during 2017, one thing is clear, investing in the right companies remains key to the strategy going forward,» stated Amir Shams, DIF’s CEO. «As DIF grows and the terms and metrics for investments change, we are determined to create innovative new opportunities for both our portfolio companies and ourselves as we continue to seek out opportunities that are aligned with the three pillars of DIF – which are Diversification, Innovation and Growth.»

According to DIF’s CEO Amir Shams, these investments will help the company’s investors reap the benefits of the upcoming digital revolution in the Arab world. DIF is well positioned throughout the tech chain of the MENA region through a web of long-term partnerships with multinational companies. 

The DIF’s core portfolio includes hydrocarbons, heavy industries, infrastructure, telecommunications, finance and clean energy investments. As DIF gains majority shareholder status in some of the biggest regional corporations and parent-holding companies, its technology investments can leverage its core portfolio investments. 

DIF is also active in UAE’s Artificial Intelligence (AI) ambitions. The company was the first to start an AI lab in Dubai in 2016 to develop machine learning capabilities and gain insights into the future possibilities of AI. DIF remains a vital investment partner for established brands and regional tech startups. It is one of the most diversified funds in the world, with deep roots in Asia, Europe, and the US. The fund caters to more than 7300 individual and institutional clients across 61+ countries. The company looks beyond short-term gains to explore long-term partnerships with companies, institutions, and government bodies for the betterment of local society and the environment. DIF remains one of the most prominent investors in green energy in the Middle East, Africa, Europe, and Asia.

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CEOWORLD magazine - Latest - Tech and Innovation - DIF’s Tech Investments and Growing Interest in Technology Sector in Dubai
Anna Papadopoulos
Anna Papadopoulos is a senior money, wealth, and asset management reporter at CEOWORLD magazine, covering consumer issues, investing and financial communities + author of the CEOWORLD magazine newsletter, writing about money with an enthusiasm unknown to mankind. You can follow CEOWORLD magazine on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or connect on LinkedIn for musings on money, wealth, asset management, millionaires, and billionaires. Email her at