10 unicorns to gallop

Dubai - Dubai Internet City is home to 1,600 technology companies.

By Waheed Abbas

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DIC continues to look at new markets like the US, China, India and Europe. — Wam
DIC continues to look at new markets like the US, China, India and Europe. — Wam

Published: Mon 7 Dec 2020, 11:19 PM

Dubai Internet City (DIC) is expected to be home to at least 10 unicorns in the next decade as it looks to strengthen its position as a regional hub for new-age technology companies, according to its top official.

Managing director Ammar Al Malik said the region’s largest technology hub is now home to a couple of new unicorns and it will also remain an active place for the technology ecosystem and startups, as well as a magnet for global technology players to have their regional headquarters in the free zone.

He said there are a “couple of potential unicorn candidates”, but declined to name them.

“We are aware that more will come soon. In the next 10 years, I won’t be surprised if we have more than 10 unicorns,” Malik told Khaleej Times in an interview on the sidelines of Gitex Technology Week at the Dubai World Trade Centre.

Thanks to its world-class infrastructure, access to incubators and availability of smart funding, DIC has seen an emergence of a number of unicorns such as Bayut and Dubizzle, ride-hailing app Careem and Uber, and Souq.com and Amazon, among others.

“We don’t want to see just one or two M&As and then things cool down. We are happy to see that DIC has a sustainable ecosystem with more investments coming in and exits happening, reflecting a healthy ecosystem. We expect more such M&A deals will happen,” he said.

Even during the peak of the pandemic and lockdown, DIC remained a vibrant and active place as Bayut-Dubizzle announced their merger in June 2020.

DIC is home to 1,600 technology companies including some of the world’s biggest names such as Microsoft, Google, Oracle, Cisco Systems and Tata Consultancy Services, among others. Malik expects some more global names will be announced soon.

“In the first half of 2020, we had record investments in our startup platform In5 Tech… everybody wants a piece of technology now,” Malik said during the interview.

DIC continues to look at new markets like the US, China, India and Europe. “These markets continue to provide best global companies for DIC to have their bases.”

2021 outlook

Malik said next year is very exciting for DIC because 2020 showed how important technology and e-commerce are.

“We went light-years ahead in terms of adaptation and digital transformation and the assessments that were made before coronavirus such as cloud computing assessment and digital transformation growth. Previously, companies said 30 per cent of their budgets will be used for digital transformation. I am excited to know what these numbers are now in post Covid-19. We are very optimistic about 2021 when this dark clouds fade away,” Malik said during the interview.

The DIC chief believes Dubai will strengthen its position as hub for new-age technologies and will attract more human capital from around the world as well as AI universities in the UAE will create more talent in this field.

“The Golden Visa will also support and attract global talent. This is critical because companies located here need to have the best talent in the world,” he added.


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