Sheikh Khalifa: The architect behind Abu Dhabi Fund for Development

The ADFD contributed to positioning the UAE as the world’s largest donor of development aid


A Staff Reporter

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Published: Sun 15 May 2022, 11:49 PM

Last updated: Mon 16 May 2022, 7:14 AM

The late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan played a pivotal role in making the UAE a shining example of generosity and caregiving by reaching out to the world’s less privileged with its spirit of giving and tolerance.

And giving shape to that vision has been the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD), which has been driving that vision since it was founded in 1971.

Sheikh Khalifa, who had carried forward the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed’s spirit of tolerance and giving, was the architect behind the Fund helping drive sustainable development in developing countries around the world.

Paying tribute to Sheikh Khalifa’s lasting legacy, Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, ADFD director-general, told the Emirates News Agency (WAM) that the UAE and the world have lost a wise leader who dedicated his life to serving his country and continue the renaissance started by the late Sheikh Zayed. He said this has seen the UAE become a pioneering model for sustainable development locally and globally.

He said that Sheikh Khalifa’s developmental efforts and humanitarian work helped the UAE make its way into the hearts and minds of hundreds of thousands of people around the world who benefited from the developmental projects. He also underscored the UAE’s role and its leadership in helping countries overcome challenges, pointing out that it was among the first countries to support humanitarian initiatives during the Covid-19 pandemic, accounting for 80 per cent of the global response to the pandemic. The country’s contributions totalled 2,154 tonnes of medical aid and supplies, which were distributed across 135 countries.

Since becoming chair of the ADFD’s board of directors, Sheikh Khalifa worked to push comprehensive development forward with great vigour, devoting his life to continuing the UAE’s renaissance and driving local and global economic growth.

The fund, through its developmental and investment projects, had a direct role in advancing the economies of developing countries, as it financed several strategic projects which contributed to development in 103 countries. Moreover, the fund doubled its financing and investment to over Dh150 billion, which helped enhance access to health and educational services, develop infrastructure across road, transportation, water networks, airport construction, housing, and other vital projects across various countries.

Sheikh Khalifa had been instrumental in pushing forward an active foreign policy that cemented the UAE’s status as a proactive member of the regional and international communities. He strived to strengthen ties with various countries — regionally and internationally, through the UAE’s foreign aid policy, which supports economic growth in developing countries, helping them achieve sustainable development and improve the living condition of people in those nations.

The Fund contributed to positioning the UAE as the world’s first and largest donor for development aid.

The spirit of giving that Sheikh Khalifa made a core trait of the UAE also left its mark locally, when he amended the provisions of the law in 2013 to include the UAE in the list of countries to benefit from the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development. This helped accelerate the UAE’s development drive.


Over the past years, the Fund has launched various initiatives and developed new tools that contributed to the growth of the national economy. This was done by enhancing the role of the private sector as an active strategic partner in the development process. Other initiatives included expanding the scope of work of UAE companies which enabled them to implement and develop ADFD-funded projects in beneficiary countries.

ADFD launched the Abu Dhabi Exports Office (ADEX) to support UAE companies and build a diversified and sustainable economy by providing financing solutions and guarantees to importers of Emirati products and services, further enhancing the UAE’s presence on the global trade map. This has contributed to increasing national export rates and opening new markets for them.

The admirable humanitarian stances of the late Sheikh Khalifa have contributed to charting a brighter future for numerous communities around the world, positioning the UAE as a pioneer in driving sustainable economic development, both locally and globally.

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