UAE boosts start-up ecosystem

Dubai - The initiatives seek to enable entrepreneurs and young talents to be an integral part of the new economy.


Issac John

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Published: Tue 29 Jun 2021, 12:45 PM

The UAE’s start-up ecosystem, acclaimed to be among the world’s most sought-after, received a major fillip on Monday with the launch of a spate of game-changing initiatives, including a “Skill-up Academy” and a “Scale-up Platform”.

The initiatives seek to enable entrepreneurs and young talents to be an integral part of the new economy the future-ready nation envisages as it pivots to the next 50 years of growth.

Declaring that the national economy is “accelerating and moving in the right direction”, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, took to Twitter on Monday to announce the innovative initiatives he launched at the Ministry of Economy to attract young talents and start-ups to the UAE.

“Today, at the Ministry of Economy, we launched Skill-Up Academy, a business leadership academy; Scale-up Platform, a new platform to support start-ups’ growth; and Grow in UAE, a smart platform to provide integrated information on investment policies and opportunities,” Sheikh Mohammed said.

“We also launched a clear national agenda to attract young and skilled talents to the state,” the Vice-President tweeted.

Other innovative economic projects include accelerators for family businesses looking to enter new markets as well as an institute for economic research that will be launched in cooperation with prestigious international universities. A global investment conference, which will focus on the opportunities of the new economy in the UAE, is also in the works and scheduled for March 2022.

“Our economic work continues and is accelerating and moving in the right direction,” said Sheikh Mohammed. “Our government team was reconstituted last summer so that all ministries and legislative institutions work to focus on one clear goal — the economic growth of the UAE for the next 50 years.”

The UAE has the most active startup ecosystem in the Middle East as 33 of the 50 most-funded startups named by Forbes are headquartered in the emirates.

Among the top 10 startups in Forbes Middle East list of the “50 most-funded startups in the Middle East,” seven startups were established in the UAE.

The UAE’s continuous focus on innovation and entrepreneurship has helped enhance its appeal as an attractive global startup hub. Over the past few years, the country has positioned itself as a testbed for startups from around the world that bring with them cutting-edge technologies and solutions,” said PNC Menon, chairman of Sobha Developers.

Analysts said startups are a major source of innovation within the UAE’s business community as they are quick to identify market gaps and develop effective solutions and services to meet such demands.

The UAE’s entrepreneurial landscape features a vibrant SME sector that contributes to more than 53 per cent of the nation’s non-oil GDP. According to Younis Haji Al Khoori, Undersecretary of Ministry of Finance, this percentage is expected to rise to 60 per cent by the end of 2021, and to higher levels in the coming years.

“Over the years, the UAE has built a pro-investor ecosystem conducive to risk-taking. The landmark law allowing 100 per cent foreign ownership of companies and long-term visa reforms are the latest among a host of measures taken by the government to attract investors. An excellent infrastructure, investor-friendly reforms, safe-haven status, and sound regulation have contributed among other factors to help the UAE stand out as one of the most sought-after destinations for startups in the world,” said KV Thomas, chairman of Thomsun Group.

The World Bank in its Ease of Doing Business Index 2020 ranked the UAE as the 16th most feasible economy for business regulation and operation out of an evaluation of 190 economies.

On the criterion of ‘starting a business’, which takes into account the procedural complexities, capital requirements and time taken for the commencement and operationalisation of small and medium-sized businesses, the UAE was ranked 17th out of the 190 economies. These rankings stand as a testament to the sincere efforts made by the Government of the UAE to create a supportive ecosystem for the incubation of startups in the country. —

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Sheikh Mohammed being briefed on the new initiatives at the Ministry of Economy on Monday.
Sheikh Mohammed being briefed on the new initiatives at the Ministry of Economy on Monday.

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