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Flying High with Sustainable Finance

A desire to expand its Abu Dhabi-based Eco-Residence for cabin crew led Etihad to become the first airline globally, and the first business in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), to raise funding tied to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). A partnership with the First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Global Market delivered the end goal, highlighting the region’s expertise as a hub for sustainable financing.

Etihad Airways, the national carrier of the UAE, takes sustainability extremely seriously. The aviation giant follows the ‘triple bottom line’ approach to ensure social, environmental, and financial sustainability – and aims to do business in a way that adds value to employees, communities, and the planet.

With this approach in mind, in January 2020 Etihad became the first airline in the world to secure funding for a project based on its compatibility with the SDGs. The company successfully borrowed €100m (AED404.2m) – thanks to its partnership with First Abu Dhabi Bank and Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) – to support expansion of the Etihad Eco-Residence, a sustainable apartment complex in Abu Dhabi’s Masdar City for its cabin crew. The deal will enable Etihad to fund long-term leases of the new complex.

For those who are not familiar with ADGM, it is an international financial centre and free zone located on Al Maryah Island in Abu Dhabi. Fully operational since October 2015, ADGM is a key pillar of Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision and offers long-term partnership and collaboration – locally, regionally and internationally. ADGM has been involved in several ‘firsts’ from launching the inaugural application programming interface (API) framework in the MENA region, to establishing the world’s first digital courtroom.