With a slew of business-friendly policies, measures and initiatives, Dubai is not only being perceived as a global hub for entrepreneurship and start-ups but also attracting some of the most impressive talents to the region
That Dubai has a thriving business environment driven by a host of favourable policies and initiatives is well-known. What’s also important to note is that the city offers the perfect environment to cultivate, nurture and boost entrepreneurship and start-ups in the region. It is believed to house more than 10,000 small and medium start-ups.
Whether it’s 100 per cent ownership of businesses by foreign nationals, extended visas for entrepreneurs with enterprises, or even free zones that offer a variety of benefits to start-ups—it’s more than a rewarding experience for those who choose to set up shop here. SMEs can avail the services of various incubators, government projects, public-private partnerships, accelerators and venture capitals. All these offerings are enhanced by the world-class physical and digital infrastructure, which has earned the city its reputation of being a land of opportunity and an emerging destination for start-ups and entrepreneurs. Speaking on this, Omar Khan, Director, International Offices, Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, says, “Dubai is one of the best platforms, if not the best, for being a testing hub for start-ups, start-up ideas, innovations and bringing the best and brightest minds in the world. If you want to have a POC [proof of concept] of an idea—this is the best place to do it.”
Home to some of the largest banks and high net worth individuals in the world, the city is a leading financial hub in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region. It is also home to about one-third of investors and the highest number of venture capitalists in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. The existence of a strong financial infrastructure and entities makes the environment conducive to supporting budding start-ups and entrepreneurs. Speaking on this, Sudhir Syal, Chief Business Officer, Lenskart Middle East, opines, “The promise of Dubai as a business hub holds true. Dubai provides great finance and tax benefits. It’s also a very supportive and responsive government to young entrepreneurs and new enterprises which are scaling [up].”
Further, the city offers numerous and easily accessible financing options to start-ups and entrepreneurs. There are also numerous accelerators that bring together start-ups and investors, and public-private partnerships that provide funding to start-ups.
Special steps have been taken to support, train and guide these rising business minds. The government, along with private education enterprises, promotes the study of entrepreneurship. In this regard, the Dubai Future Foundation has partnered with local institutes to launch entrepreneurship programmes to nurture a spirit of entrepreneurship among the youth. The foundation also aims to bring together government and private entities to help start-ups flourish and has launched the Dubai Future Accelerators (DFA) initiative to support entrepreneurship. Dubai Startup Hub, which is run by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, offers services, workshops and training to help start-ups and entrepreneurs.
The city’s world-class infrastructure supports a slew of community events, exhibitions and conferences that take place all year long. It provides a great meeting point for investors and start-ups to converge, collaborate, network and conduct business. Sharing his thoughts on this, Ammar Al Malik, Managing Director, Dubai Internet City, says, “For the last 20 years, Dubai Internet City has been creating and developing an ecosystem for large technology companies, start-ups and entrepreneurs including freelancers to come and operate from Dubai. We offer A-Z services whether it is the logistical part, the real estate required to operate, community events and meeting people and being part of a community.”
The environment is also particularly advantageous to women entrepreneurs as they can seek support and special assistance.
UAE and entrepreneurship
UAE recently ranked first in the world as the best place to start a business as per the Global Entrepreneurship Index. This is largely due to the opportunities, skills, education, access to finance and support that the country offers entrepreneurs. With its strong infrastructure, the country provides the right platform to scale up a business. SMEs and start-ups comprise more than 94 per cent of the market in the country and employ more than 86 per cent of the private workforce. Further, UAE is aiming to nurture 20 unicorns or start-ups valued at over USD 1 billion by 2031. Speaking on Entrepreneurial Nation, an initiative that supports start-ups through a series of public-private partnerships, Ahmad Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, shares, “The idea is to help entrepreneurs expand their businesses, export their products and tap into online sales.” To this effect, the UAE has set aside a USD 272 million private equity fund for SMEs based in the country operating in strategic sectors.
As is evident, the city’s start-ups are playing a vital role in its growth story and will prove to be a strong pillar in its future progress and success.
Disclaimer: This article is a part of featured content series on Business in Dubai