COP28 Presidency and Banks Explore Ways to Derisk Green Finance


The U.S.- U.A.E. Business Council hosted a luncheon conversation on the topic of sustainable finance of green projects in the developing world at the Ritz Carlton in Dubai on 18 October 2023.  Mercedes Vela Monserrate, Finance Sector Lead for the COP28 Presidency, provided keynote remarks on the U.A.E.’s goals and objectives for COP28 in this area. She was joined by a panel of financial sector leaders from Bank of America, HSBC, Mashreq, and Standard Chartered Bank who provided their perspectives on the issue. The event took place just ahead of COP28, which the U.A.E. will host at Expo City in Dubai beginning on 30 November.

Ms. Vela Monserrate said the U.A.E.’s  main objective is to position sustainable finance and participation of the business community at the center of the COP28 discussion. She encouraged mobilizing climate finance through innovative technology and global best practices. She further underscored the U.A.E.’s goal of making climate finance more affordable, accessible, and available. She noted that critical to this discussion will be agreeing on a transition from a taxonomy of old economy to new green economy language and how to discuss these projects.  She underscored that this COP must be about countries delivering pledges as opposed to simply making new commitments. 

Leading representatives of private sector financial services companies then joined the stage for a panel discussion moderated by Business Council President Danny Sebright. Arshad Ghafur, President for the MENA region at Bank of America, noted that the greatest opportunities in sustainable finance are in nuclear power, hydrogen, and carbon capture. He praised the U.A.E.’s leadership role with regard to hosting COP28.

Alyson Henshaw, Managing Director and Chief Commercial Officer for MENAT Global Banking at HSBC, outlined that challenges to sustainable finance adoption are mobilizing capital, high cost, and subsidies. She also spoke about the importance of public private partnerships — government plays a critical role.

Faisal Al Shimmari, Head of ESG and Corporate Strategy at Mashreq, gave insights on the most important factors that banks consider when assessing the bankability of green projects, and how banks can creatively derisk green finance projects. He underscored the need to focus on the social aspects of sustainable finance, such as poverty reduction.

Khaldoun Hajaj, Executive Director of Government Affairs for Africa and the Middle East at Standard Chartered Bank, discussed ways businesses can make their green projects more attractive to banks, and he warned against greenwashing. He recommended that there be a strong business case for investors interested in sustainable finance.  He also lauded the increased government capacity on sustainable finance and the fundamental role the U.A.E. is playing in this emerging sector.

This event is part of a series of events that the Business Council is hosting on the “Road to COP28.” The Business Council will convene another sustainable finance focused event during Abu Dhabi Finance Week immediately before the beginning of COP28. For more information please contact Graham Reitman at

ASPIRE Highlights Autonomous Vehicle Initiative at GITEX

ASPIRE, a key branch of Abu Dhabi’s Advanced Technology Research Council (ATRC), announced details of its new initiative aimed at spurring enthusiasm, innovation, and global investment in the development of autonomous vehicles: the Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League (A2RL). On October 16th, the first day of GITEX Global, ASPIRE unveiled a model of the first ever automized Dallara Super Formula, SF23. This cutting-edge vehicle will transform racing in the inaugural autonomous race set for April 28th 2024 at the Abu Dhabi Yas Marina Circuit. This event is set to be the largest autonomous vehicle race in the world and will showcase autonomous car, drone, and dune buggy races.

H.E. Faisal Al Bannai, Secretary General of the ATRC, underscored that this initiative will position the U.A.E.’s autonomous vehicle industry at the “intersection of science, sports, and technology.” He underscored that the A2RL represents Abu Dhabi’s “growing reputation as an international research and development hub and a premier test bed for trialing proof-of-concept autonomous solutions.”

The A2RL will bring together ten elite teams from global universities and research institutions to compete for a prize of $2.25 million. Indiana University and Code19 Racing will team up, as will University of California Berkeley and University of Hawaii, to represent the United States in the race. Other competing teams include: Beijing Institute of Technology and Khalifa University (China and U.A.E.), Constructor Group (Switzerland and Singapore), Hungarian Mobility Development Agency (Hungary), Kinetiz and Nanyang Technological University (Singapore), Politecnico di Milano (Italy), Technical University of Munich (Germany), Technology Innovation Institute (U.A.E.), and University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy).

Each team will have access to a brand new Dallara Super Formula SF23 car, which is manufactured from sustainable bio-composite materials and weighs 690 kgs. It is currently the fastest open-wheel race car in the world after Formula One, and can reach up to 300 km/h. The ten teams will adopt their software algorithms to the vehicle for the race.

Dr. Tom McCarthy, Executive Director at ASPIRE, testified that the initiative is “not just redefining mobility’s future,” but that it is also “inspiring a new generation to reimagine and innovate for a brighter future in a thrilling, international-scale race.”

For more information about A2RL and engagement opportunities, please visit the website at


From left to right: Danny Sebright, President, U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council; Jose W. Fernandez, Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment, U.S. Department of State; His Excellency Saeed Al Hajeri, Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs, U.A.E. Ministry of Foreign Affairs; and Geoffrey Pyatt, Assistant Secretary of State for Energy Resources, U.S. Department of State

Business Council Hosts Private Sector Dinner ahead of the 10th U.S.-U.A.E. Economic Policy Dialogue

On Tuesday, 31 October 2023, the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council hosted a private sector dinner on the eve of the 10th annual U.S.-U.A.E. Economic Policy Dialogue (EPD). The event brought together leaders from the U.S. and U.A.E. private sectors with the government delegations for a substantive discussion on key policy matters, challenges, and opportunities in the bilateral relationship. Following the working dinner on the 31st, senior U.S. and U.A.E. officials are meeting today, November 1st, for government-to-government meetings in Washington, D.C.

H.E. Yousef Al Otaiba, U.A.E. Ambassador to the U.S., welcomed guests who attended the dinner to underscore the importance of this dialogue to the overall bilateral relationship. Ambassador Al Otaiba said that “commercial and trade relations are the cornerstone of the U.S.-U.A.E. relationship.”

Jose W. Fernandez, U.S. Department of State Under Secretary for Economic Growth, Energy, and the Environment spoke of his role in creating the EPD ten years ago, and its aim to foster discussion on key policy issues in the U.S.-U.A.E. commercial and trade relationship. Noting the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s historic involvement in the EPD, he remarked that, from the outset, the EPD envisioned a strong role for the private sector. He commended the U.S.-UA.E. Business Council for helping “meet that challenge in spades.” U/S Fernandez noted that the decade since the creation of the EPD has seen a steady rise in the level of trade and commerce between the two countries and significant improvement in the investment climate. He underscored the critical role the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council played in this process.

Moreover, Under Secretary Fernandez outlined opportunities to expand the U.S.-U.A.E. trade and commercial relationship in new areas, including by leveraging multilateral mechanisms such as the I2U2 Initiative, an economic partnership between India, Israel, U.A.E., and the United States. He called on the private sectors within the I2U2 countries to mobilize resources to identify, explore, and participate in “bankable” projects that tackle global challenges and unlock new economic opportunities in key sectors. He also encouraged private industry to get involved in the Minerals Security Partnership (MSP), a collaboration of 13 countries and the EU to catalyze public and private investment in responsible critical mineral supply chains globally. Under Secretary Fernandez spoke of an economic agenda focused on building a greener future and leveraging new technologies, and concluded by emphasizing the need for projects in I2U2 and MSP.”

U.A.E. Assistant Minister for Economic and Trade Affairs, H.E. Saeed Al Hajeri recalled his experience as a student in the United States, for which he credited with “shaping” who he is today.” He echoed Under Secretary Fernandez’s comments on the importance of bilateral dialogues such as the EPD for providing opportunities for the private sector to discuss key policy issues with government leaders. Like Under Secretary Fernandez, H.E. Al Hajeri highlighted steady growth in trade volume and investment flows between the two countries. He cited “people to people ties” as central to the business relationship and predicted more achievements to come in this regard. He described the relationship with the United States as a “model,” and lauded the close intergovernmental working relationship between the U.S. and the U.A.E. He added that the U.A.E. will spare no effort in trying to find consensus and deliver a meaningful outcome at COP28.

U.S. Department of State Assistant Secretary for Energy Resources Geoffrey Pyatt reinforced the importance of industry participation at COP28. He highlighted the U.S.-U.A.E. PACE agreement as a cornerstone of bilateral cooperation on clean energy. He referenced the strides the U.A.E. has made in the clean energy sector and mentioned the roles of ENEC, Masdar, and ADNOC in leading the effort. At COP28, he hopes that stakeholders will highlight progress in the energy transition, pointing to innovative new SMR technology from U.S. companies such as Westinghouse and GE. He emphasized the importance of “raising the business footprint” at COP28 and in meeting energy transition benchmarks. He noted that the U.S. government delegation to COP28 will be robust, with no less than 50 agencies and bureaus represented.

Conversation with member companies of the private sector centered on opportunities for greater collaboration and policy concerns in areas such as healthcare, energy, sustainable finance, and digital technology. Participants discussed the need to “develop new ideas” to overcome the challenges of sustainable finance. Assistant Minister for Medical Affairs and Life Sciences H.E. Maha Barakat highlighted that health care will be a focus area at COP 28 for the first time and linked climate change to global public health challenges. Industry representatives also discussed digital policy matters and sought clarification on U.A.E. developments, including the creation of the U.A.E. Data Office, policies regarding 6G rollout, and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP). Requirements of the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS) surfaced in the context of the U.A.E.’s strong desire to increase its investments in the United States. Participants also discussed steel and aluminum tariffs, bilateral cooperation in food security, and opportunities for U.S. business in the context of the U.A.E.’s recent spate of Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreements (CEPAs).

Inaugurated in 2012, the EPD serves as an annual forum for the two governments to discuss bilateral trade and investment opportunities, and to facilitate a regulatory and policy environment that fosters greater opportunities for private sector engagement and collaboration. U.A.E. and U.S. officials lauded the work of the EPD over the years in helping to resolve outstanding policy questions in several areas and in advancing the overall investment, trade, and business relationship.

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council has, from the first meeting of the EPD, worked closely with both governments to provide industry perspectives on challenges and opportunities in the bilateral relationship that, in turn, inform and shape the discussions of the joint government dialogue. This support has taken the form of an industry feedback letter about policy matters and the U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council’s annual EPD private sector dinner.

For more information about this event, please contact Matthew Gardell at


Hydrogen Takes Center Stage

In advance of COP28 UAE, the US-UAE Business Council is pleased to present a new policy report on #hydrogen as a viable, clean, and efficient #energy source. Hydrogen will have its moment in the spotlight as a key pillar of #COP28 and in light of the #UAE‘s newly released National Hydrogen Strategy. At COP28, negotiators are set to announce a plan to double global #hydrogenproduction to 180 million tons per year by #2030. The U.A.E. government, as part of its Hydrogen Strategy, plans to embark on local hydrogen projects aimed to position the country as a global leader in this field.

Readers of this report will:
– Gain insights into key developments in the hydrogen sector and key hydrogen projects in the U.A.E. 
– Better understand why the U.A.E. views hydrogen as an important #alternativeenergy source and why it is positioned to become a central player in the global hydrogen market.   
– Learn more detail about the U.A.E.’s National Hydrogen Strategy and the opportunities it presents for private sector engagement from U.S. industry. 
– Better appreciate the U.A.E.’s plans to feature hydrogen as a key element of the policy discussions at COP28. 
To access the full U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council report on the U.A.E.’s hydrogen strategy: