UAE startups hail long-term visa
The UAE remains the top destination for startup funding, accounting for 32 per cent of all deals. - Alamy
The UAE has been home to many startups and will continue to be the hub in the Middle East. The ecosystem received a major boost last week as government decided to issue 10-year visas to investors, which has been widely hailed by industries, particularly by the startup community.
The government's approach to boost the ease of doing business has encouraged many investors locally as well as from the regional level. Global startups too have decided to expand their operations in the UAE, with corporate houses ready to provide the necessary assistance in making the UAE hotbed for investments.
The cumulative push from Area 2071, Hub 71, Microsoft, Zoho, the Dubai Chamber and Techstars, apart from leading venture capitalists like MEVP, Beco, Wamda, 500 Startups and Shorooq, among others, have only added to the positive business sentiment in the region.
"We have been calling for this for at least one year and have turned up the volume on this rhetoric and laid out our rationale as to why and how. We are delighted and over the moon with the announcement of long-term visas," said Dany Farha, chief executive officer of Beco Capital.
"Tech entrepreneurship and innovation is 100 per cent about human capital and this new law is transformational in attracting the best minds in the world to choose Dubai as their home and place to innovate. Growing this segment also creates a high-quality middle-class population that drives domestic consumption and creates high value GDP. A perfect win-win-win for all stakeholders."
According to Magnitt, statistics from entrepreneurship in the Arab world indicate there are 10,000-plus startups, with over $2.1 billion in total funding and almost 1,600 total deals. The UAE houses most startups in the region; almost 35 per cent of all startups in the Arab world have headquarters in the nation, with which the country accounted for 28 per cent of all deals in 2018.
Female-founded start-ups accounted for 8 per cent of all investments since 2008, with mixed gender and male-founded startups accounting for 10 per cent and 82 per cent, respectively. Total funding in the first quarter of 2019 in the Mena region topped $150 million and the UAE remained the top destination for startup funding, accounting for 32 per cent of all deals and 67 per cent of total funding amounts.
"With the surge in startups in the UAE it only adds to the incentives to start and expand operations here," said Canada-based Nauman Jaffar, founder of YourDoctors.Online. The startup is currently in talks with various authorities to expand its footprint in the region.
"The UAE is now recognised globally to be a hub of innovation and we would like to be part of its growth and hence plan to bring our global startups and business to the region," added Nauman.
Another global player, Techstars, which has already established its presence in the UAE, is equally thrilled at prospect to the launch of 'Golden Card' in the UAE.
"The Golden Card is a fantastic incentive to attract talented entrepreneurs from around the world to UAE. It's makes our value proposition more compelling as an innovation hub. Its a game changer," said Vijay Tirathrai, managing director of Techstars.
Recently, Zoho provided complementary services to startups, so they can put their entire money into their product and focus on building and delivering products.
Ali Shabdar, business development director for the Middle East and Africa atZoho Corporation, said: "Startups can enjoy our entire offerings with Zoho One licences for as long as they are in the incubation phase, with no strings attached. Complementary products and services [where applicable] as well as providing mentorship programmes where both companies and the startups learn from each other and contribute to the mission of one another are some of the ways large companies can help." - email@example.com