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Look for technologies that tackle the challenges of the hour

Rohma Sadaqat /Dubai
rohma@khaleejtimes.com Filed on June 3, 2021
Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO of the Dubai Investment Development Agency - Photo by Shihab


When it comes to the global recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, experts at the Global Investment Forum 2021 have an important message that they want to share – find and invest in technologies that present a solution.

Daniel Seal, founder and CEO of Unbound, shed light on the current investment landscape and the role that technology has played in its evolution.

“If you look at the past 20 years, there have always been moments of global pivots; just look at the difference that came about as a result of instant messaging and video on demand,” he said. “Pandemics promote opportunities, and I think that every crisis is an opportunity.”

“We have seen that people want to try new technologies; simply look at how cryptos have gone absolutely crazy right now,” he added. “What we are seeing is an acceleration of what is happening, so fintech, mobile banking, digital banking, insurance, and online businesses are all gaining steam. My advice is to look for challenges and the technologies that solve those challenges.”

Fahad Al Gergawi, CEO, Dubai Investment Development Agency, pointed out that trust is a key factor for investors when they are making decisions, especially when the market keeps evolving. “The whole digital transformation drive that we have seen is changing the way that investors look at the ME region.”

In addition, he noted that it has played a key role in helping the UAE tackle the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic. “Where we are today in terms of investment and investors around the world, has seen a decrease of 50 per cent from 2019 levels, but at the same time, there are signs of change happening. In a time when the world has lost a lot of jobs, which is a trigger for domestic turbulence and insecurity, governments have to work hand in hand to attract future investment.”

Les Male, CEO of Dubai Gold & Commodities Exchange, noted that big investment projects will have to have an attraction that leads to a fragmentation in order to encourage micro investors. “When I look at the global equity markets, they recovered surprisingly quickly; within two to three months, Nasdaq, Dow and Nifty were back at the levels that they were in Q1 and Q2 last year. The challenge is going to be with the retail investor who will need protection as global corporates contract.”

Vera Futorjanski, CEO and founder of Veritas Ventures, observed that even before the Covid-19 pandemic, consumer behavior had shifted to “a whole different level.”

“Marketplaces have gone online, wellbeing has really taken off, and fintech has really gained steam,” she said. “One silver lining of this pandemic is that we don’t necessarily have to be in Silicon Valley anymore to raise money as a corporation or as a startup. This behavioral shift is great and we are going to be seeing a lot more of it where global VCs look at different regions that they might not have looked at before. This is because they recognise the potential that they are seeing in this region, and how that potential is growing significantly.”

She added: “Just look at Uber buying Careem; what this will do is create a ripple effect where the people that used to be at Careem will now have the confidence to launch their own startups. More people today want to be entrepreneurs and they are raising money and contributing to the startup landscape.”

Through it all, she said that many people are surprised by the role that the UAE Government has played, especially now during the pandemic. “The UAE Government has already started to diversify itself away from an oil economy to an innovative knowledge-based economy. Going forward, we will see many more local champions created by the governments around innovation.”



Rohma Sadaqat

I am a reporter and sub-editor on the Business desk at Khaleej Times. I mainly cover and write articles on the UAE's retail, hospitality, travel, and tourism sectors.Originally from Lahore, I have been living in the UAE for more than 20 years. I graduated with a BA in Mass Communication, with a concentration in Journalism, and a double minor in History and International Studies from the American University of Sharjah.If you see me out and about on assignment in Dubai, feel free to stop me, say hello, and we can chat about the latest kitten videos on YouTube.

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