Dubai aims to turn 30 startups into unicorns, says official

The UAE is becoming a preferred choice for newly established businesses to raise funds, expand, and hit the billion-dollar mark


Waheed Abbas

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Published: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 1:13 PM

Last updated: Wed 15 Feb 2023, 1:55 PM

The Dubai Government will continue to support and nurture the emirate’s flourishing startup and small-and-medium enterprise (SME) ecosystem with an aim to support 30 companies to reach unicorn status by 2023, said Hadi Badri, CEO of the Economic Development Department at the Department of Economy and Tourism, Dubai.

“For aspiring unicorns, there's no better time and no better place than now to do business in Dubai and use Dubai as a gateway to the broader region. Entrepreneurship and innovation are in our blood and our DNA. We, as a government, are committed to providing the right support and infrastructure to foster that growth,” Badri said during the opening remarks on the third day of the World Government Summit at Madinat Jumeirah.

Dubai has created some of the region’s top unicorns such as Careem, Swvl, Emerging Markets Property Group (EMPG), and Kitopi.

The UAE is becoming a preferred choice for startups to raise funds in order to expand and reach unicorn status. Recently, Indian startups presented their pitches in Dubai to raise funds as part of the “India-UAE startup corridor”.

“As part of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (Cepa), it was decided to have an India-UAE start-up operation, under which there were several programmes of which is, identifying 50 promising startups from India, bringing them here and uploading them so that at least 10 of them become unicorns by 2025," Dr Aman Puri, consul general of India, Dubai said in January.

Saudi Technology Ventures has projected that the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region could create more than 45 unicorns by 2030 worth $100 billion plus in equity value.

There are over 1,150 unicorns in the world and at least 47 countries have one unicorn. The US (612), China (174) and India (65) have the highest numbers of unicorns.

Hadi Badri said the venture capital (VC) market and ecosystem remain vibrant in the UAE. “In 2022, the Middle East and North Africa VC investment exceeded $3 billion VC funds invested in the UAE, which represented 40 per cent of all that funding. Yet, the UAE only represents three per cent of the Mena population,” Badri said.

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