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21 May 2024

UAE cements position as regional hub for digital entrepreneurship

By Wam

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Executive Council, said that a persistent focus on innovation and government initiatives to create a variety of new investment opportunities are reinforcing the UAE’s position as the region’s entrepreneurial hub.

Sheikh Hamdan added that the UAE has embraced advanced strategies for promoting creativity and enabling successful enterprise in emerging sectors, under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan.

The outstanding investor response and rankings that Dubai and the UAE have received regionally and globally validate its knowledge-economy strategies as envisioned in the UAE Centennial Plan, said Sheikh Hamdan.

Dubai will continue to offer a globally competitive environment for innovation and further enhance ease of business to cement its position as a preferred investment destination in line with the Centennial Plan and the Dubai Plan 2021, the Dubai Crown Prince explained.

Speaking about the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence and the Emirates Blockchain Strategy, Sheikh Hamdan said, "Greater transparency across processes and regulations along with innovation and emphasis on sustainable business growth, as directed by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, have significantly improved investor confidence in the emirate. The emirate is also pioneering digital innovations in the region as part of a national initiative."

"Artificial intelligence and blockchain are already redefining existing service models and processes, while also transforming the entrepreneurial landscape. Dubai and the UAE provide the ideal platform for innovative entrepreneurs and digital startups to grow globally. We are already seeing successful outcomes," His Highness said, commenting on the ‘State of Digital Investments in MENA (Middle East & North Africa) 2013-2017’ report.

According to the report, jointly prepared by Dubai SME, the agency of the Department of Economic Development (DED) mandated to develop the small and medium enterprises (SME) sector, and Arabnet, the UAE continued to be the leader in driving digital start-ups across MENA in 2017, both in terms of number of investors and deals.

The UAE, which retained its regional leadership for the fifth year now, accounted for almost one-third (32%) of all MENA investors. Together with Saudi Arabia, Lebanon and Egypt, it also contributed to 70% of all investments in digital startups in the region in 2017. While the UAE attracted 298 digital startups, the three countries ranked below it averaged 155.

Overall, MENA digital startups had an impressive 2017, attracting around AED2.39 billion (US$650 million). Of this, 76% went to UAE-based startups, most of which was mobilised by Careem and StarzPlay. The year also saw investments in diverse tech startups in the finance, healthcare, lifestyle, enterprise and entertainment sectors in addition to media and advertising.

"Arab and Middle East entrepreneurs and investors eager to capitalise on emerging technologies see Dubai and the UAE as a remarkable opportunity. With Dubai firming up its position both as a destination of choice and a smart city, investors will be exploring further investments in this area," said Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME.

Al Janahi added that the trends revealed in the report are particularly encouraging in view of the the Dubai SME 2021 Strategic Plan’s aim to create more support systems to enable outstanding SMEs to grow globally. "Almost one-third of the region’s investment funds focused on startup growth are now based in the UAE. Startup accelerators across the region have also grown 16%."

"Driven by the government’s focus on innovation and entrepreneurship, the UAE continues to be the entrepreneurial hub of the Middle East, capturing the largest number of deals, investors and funding. We are delighted to collaborate with Dubai SME for the second consecutive year to develop the most comprehensive report on investment in the tech space and make this knowledge available to the broader ecosystem. This will enhance our understanding of the sector’s development and give us insights on how we can be even more impactful," said Omar Christidis, Founder and CEO of ArabNet.