Dubai To Lead As Tech Startup Destination: Experts

Even in a tough year, leaders from across the world are not discounting the rise of Dubai as an innovation hub. Members of the Young Presidents’ Organization (YPO), a network of 23,000 chief executives and business leaders from over 130 countries reiterate this. A recent Wamda Research Lab report indicates that UAE continues to outperform all other MENA countries in global competitiveness and entrepreneurship.

YPO members Fadi Ghandour, Co-Founder and Vice Chairman, Aramex; Bahjat El-Darwiche, Lead Partner, Strategy and Mustafa Abdel-Wadood, Chairman of the Management Executive Committee, Abraaj Group, are among those who point to Dubai’s entrepreneurial spirit of making the impossible, possible.

As an entry point to the fast-developing markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Dubai presents unique advantages. “These are markets growing at double the rates of the developed world, and the hub for accessing these markets is Dubai,” said Mr Wadood.

Mr Ghandour reiterated the importance of Dubai’s strategic location as a gateway to emerging markets. “Dubai is ideal for any company – not only IT ventures – interested in expanding across MENA, South Asia and Africa. Most media companies and advertising agencies doing business in the region are based in Dubai, attracted by its world-class infrastructure and a very diverse and multinational workforce,” he said.

“As an investor and a participant in the regional MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem, I am extremely optimistic about the nascent IT sector in particular. We are at the cusp of major growth in technology and internet commerce with Dubai leading the way,” Mr Grandeur added.

Mr El-Darwiche noted the advantageous governmental policies that Dubai is introducing for innovation by facilitating linkages between universities, corporations and startups in different fields, including data analytics and business intelligence. “Not everything is in place, but things are happening at a fast rate, particularly with regards to technology, media, and innovation-focused budgets allocation, public private partnership frameworks, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) support programs, companies’ law amendments, and bankruptcy laws enactment.”

As Dubai prepares for the World Expo 2020, expected to draw 25 million visitors from October 2020 to April 2021, declining oil prices have created uncertainty among those thinking about launching a startup business. However, the experts remain optimistic.

“Oil prices always affect the MENA region. The low prices should be seen as an opportunity for reform, which most countries within the region are looking at very seriously. Technology is at a different trajectory. It is still in its early days and it will continue to grow substantially for the coming few years,” commented Mr Ghandour.

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