Abu Dhabi's ADFD pledges Dh1bn to support Emirati-owned businesses amid Covid-19

The fund will provide loans for businesses operating in sectors including healthcare, food security and manufacturing

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - Reporter: N/A: Standalone. A kite surfer performs in the bay in front of the Abu Dhabi skyline at sunset. Monday, April 27th, 2020. Abu Dhabi. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, an autonomous national entity affiliated with the emirate’s government, pledged Dh1 billion in concessionary loans for Emirati-owned businesses to help them weather the coronavirus pandemic.

The fund will provide financing facilities to firms in sectors including healthcare, food security and manufacturing, ADFD said in a statement on Sunday. It will also support those companies that are directly affected by the virus-containment measures.

The fund will disburse loans until the end of 2020, it added.

“We are confident that our national companies will emerge from this current situation stronger and more resilient, as we continue on the path of sustainable growth and economic diversification,” Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, director general of ADFD, said.

“Our nation’s economic strength is underpinned by our national companies that drive innovation and employment. This initiative shows that we stand ready to support these companies and collaborate with them in building a resilient and prosperous future for the nation.”

The fund said concessionary loans will help the struggling businesses both directly and indirectly.

ADFD, which finance projects across developing countries, said it has already facilitated business deals worth Dh16.5bn for UAE companies across its portfolio of overseas projects in the last 10 years.

The fund in April launched the Abu Dhabi Exports Office (Adex) to help national exporters access new export markets. Earlier this month, Adex said it has already allocated Dh550 million to help UAE companies restart exports as the global economy gradually opens up with the easing of lockdown measures.

The coronavirus pandemic has hammered the global economy, which is set to contract 3 per cent this year and is projected to slide into the deepest recession since the Great Depression of 1930s. Governments across the world have flushed out more than $8 trillion in stimulus and monetary support (Dh29.4tn) to help protect businesses and stem job losses.

The UAE, the second biggest Arab economy, was one of the first in the Middle East to launch a stimulus package to help businesses ride out the coronavirus crisis.

In March, the Central Bank of the UAE rolled out Dh256bn in stimulus, which included a Dh50bn Targeted Economic Support Scheme of interest-free loans to banks, as well as a loosening of requirements on capital and liquidity buffers.

Free zones across the country have also waived rents and discounted fees to in a bid to support support private businesses deal with Covid-19 disruptions.