Dubai Becoming a Start Up Hub

Dubai Becoming a Start Up Hub

The grand economic vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, has led to the creation of thriving technology hubs like Dubai Internet City that have transformed the industry in the region and made Dubai a major global innovation and start-up hotspot, said H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Dubai Crown Prince and Chairman of The Executive Council of Dubai.

H.H. said the emirate’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem has enabled a host of technology start-ups to script global success stories. From world-leading infrastructure and regulatory frameworks to availability of incubators and smart funding, Dubai provides all the elements needed for new ventures of all sizes to succeed.

Sheikh Hamdan’s remarks came during a meeting with Pavel Durov, Founder and CEO of Telegram , one of the world’s leading cloud-based instant messaging and VoIP services. Globally headquartered in Dubai, Telegram is valued at more than $20 billion, and has more than 570 million users, out of which 100 million were acquired in January alone.

He said: “Dubai’s ability to provide a productive growth-oriented environment for technology start-ups is validated by the fact that some the world’s most exciting and successful digital companies like Telegram have chosen to run their ventures out of the emirate. We continue to welcome great talent and ideas to Dubai which offers a nurturing ecosystem for their development.”

Pavel Durov, Founder and CEO of Telegram, expressed his appreciation for His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum’s vision for a vibrant technological community, which has played an important role in driving growth, innovation and entrepreneurship in the technology sector far beyond Dubai’s borders. The startup ecosystem, advanced infrastructure and business-friendly legislation offered by Dubai has made it a hub for talent and entrepreneurs aspiring to go global from all over the world.”

In 2020, Telegram became one of the 10 most downloaded and popular apps in the world. By 2022, it is expected to have one billion active users per month.

Telegram is one of a series of global entrepreneurial successes that have emerged out of Dubai over the last few years. Other notable ones include Careem, acquired by Uber; Souq.com, the first unicorn company in the Middle East, acquired by Amazon; Media.Net, one of the world’s largest ad tech companies; Anghami, an Arabic music streaming platform; and Wrappup, the developer of an AI-based productivity app, acquired by US tech firm Voicera. Last year, Dubai-based Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG) and OLX Group, owners of homegrown technology firms Bayut and dubizzle, announced the merger of their MENA and South Asia operations to form a Dubai-based unicorn company. These companies have shown the world how Dubai enables startups to dream big and achieve even bigger.

The UAE has been ranked first in the in the region, and fourth globally in the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) 2020 by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM – NECI), climbing up from its fifth ranking in the 2019 report.

The country has outperformed many of the major global economies such as the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Australia, European Union countries, China, Japan and South Korea in the overall rankings of the index.

The UAE achieved advanced rankings in many of the sub-indicators included in the general index structure in its 2020 version. Most notably, the country ranked second in the National Governments’ Response to the COVID-19 lockdown and its impact on the entrepreneurial sector.

The UAE also ranked high on the General Physical Infrastructure and Services indicator access with 7.3 points out of 10, outperforming United Kingdom, the United States, Spain, Austria and Germany.

The country also achieved the same score on the Cultural, Social Norms and Society Support.

Furthermore, the country also ranked high in the sub indicator R&D Level of Transference, along with the Kingdom of Norway and Italy, ahead of Germany, the United States, the United Kingdom, Sweden, South Korea.

Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy, said that the achievement is a matter of great pride, which confirms the soundness of the approach and the strength of the economic policies pursued by the UAE, with the support and guidance of its wise leadership. The UAE’s fourth ranking globally in the Global Entrepreneurship Index indicates the success of national efforts made over the past decade to develop the country’s entrepreneurship sector and highlight the projects model of SMEs as a main driver of economic diversification and sustainability and raise its competitiveness at the global level.

He added: “Today, the UAE has a world-leading experience in supporting and organising the entrepreneurship sector, in building an integrated system to support and incubate entrepreneurial projects, accelerate their growth, and developing initiatives and programs that make it a growth engine and a major contributor to our non-oil GDP. Led by the directives of our wise leadership, the Ministry of Economy, in cooperation with various government entities in the country, will continue its efforts to support and empower Emirati entrepreneurs for the development of SMEs and start-ups in the country, especially those based on innovative ideas, as a priority within the UAE’s plans for the next fifty years. We will ensure the integration of new business models into the activities of entrepreneurs to improve their performances, make them globally competitive and enable them to keep pace with global developments and ultimately become active participants in the country’s economic transformation.”

Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs said that the country’s excellent global ranking in GEI reflects the success of its efforts and ambitious aspirations that stem from the insightful vision of its wise leadership. This indeed is a valuable addition to the country’s record of outstanding economic achievements. These efforts will continue in cooperation with the Ministry’s partners inside and outside the country to make Emirati entrepreneurs the best and most successful in the world in the coming years, he said.

Al Falasi indicated that the Ministry is developing an integrated strategy to stimulate entrepreneurship during the next phase in cooperation with the concerned authorities. This is aimed at developing an integrated framework to support national entrepreneurship, drive the development of the SME sector in the various emirates of the country, and to create an environment capable of providing comprehensive and sustainable support for entrepreneurs in the country. These efforts will focus on the ease of doing business, access to finance, increasing demand, business support, innovation, and digital transformation.

He further explained that the entrepreneurship and SME sector has today become a major engine for economic growth, in addition to its pivotal role in creating job opportunities and increasing the country’s competitiveness at the regional and global levels.

He added: “The economic challenges created by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 have affected the entrepreneurial sector negatively in most countries of the world and have led to the decline of most of the world economies. The progress made by countries on this indicator during the pandemic is a multiplier and reflects the unparalleled efforts made by the UAE to ensure support for this sector. This ensured the continuity of businesses and put them on a sustainable path of growth, which is reflected in the country’s second ranking globally in the sub-indicator namely Speed of Government Response to the Effects of the Pandemic on the Entrepreneurship Sector.”

GEI is one of the indicators of the UAE Vision 2021 national agenda, under the axis of ‘Competitive Knowledge Economy,’ supervised by the Ministry of Economy, with the contribution of a national team and with the participation of many stakeholders in the country.

These include the Prime Minister’s Office; the Statistics and Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre; the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development; Dubai SME; and the departments of economic development.

Indonesia ranked first in the GIM 2020, followed by the Netherlands of and Taiwan. The index is published by GEM, which is the world’s first reference for the state of entrepreneurship in various countries, especially by international organisations such as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the World Intellectual Property Organisation (WIPO) and the United Nations organizations.

The report is the largest study on entrepreneurship and its activities in the world and includes a summary of the research that the Observatory conducts on global economies to evaluate the state of entrepreneurship in various countries.

The report’s methodology focuses on achieving three main objectives: measuring differences in entrepreneurial activity across world economies and understanding the ecosystem of entrepreneurship; discovering the factors affecting it; and proposing policies that can help enhance the level of entrepreneurial activity in the participating countries.

The index evaluates participating countries on many sub-indicators within a flexible structure that includes aspects such as finance, government policies, and government programs for entrepreneurs, research and development and knowledge transfer, teaching entrepreneurship skills in school and university education, labour market dynamics, and supportive infrastructure and the culture and societal outlook in support of entrepreneurship, among others.

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S. Jack Heffernan Ph.D. Funds Manager at HEFFX holds a Ph.D. in Economics and brings with him over 25 years of trading experience in Asia and hands on experience in Venture Capital, he has been involved in several start ups that have seen market capitalization over $500m and 1 that reach a peak market cap of $15b. He has managed and overseen start ups in Mining, Shipping, Technology and Financial Services.

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