Dubai emerges as MENA's unicorn hub: Changer's ambitious plans unveiled

The strategic relocation of unicorns to Dubai aligns with the UAE's broader vision to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on traditional sectors like transport, trade, and tourism

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Published: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 11:56 AM

Last updated: Thu 14 Dec 2023, 1:09 PM

Dubai is set to become the unicorn hub of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. This comes as the Global Club for Angel Investors, Changer, announced its bold strategy to relocate 20 new unicorns to the UAE as a way of remedying the lack of unicorns in the region. The bustling cityscape of Dubai's Shangri-La hotel recently played host to a momentous gathering of over 150 international angel investors, graced by the presence of Sheikh Ali Al Maktoum, marking a significant turning point in the region's innovative landscape.

Changer, renowned for catalysing innovative ventures, strategically selected Dubai as part of its MENA expansion, leveraging the city's position as the world's leading financial centre. This couldn’t have come at a better time, as the emirate rounds out the first of the emirate’s ten-year plan to double its economy through diversifying its income from its previous oil-dependent income.

The recent gathering served as the inauguration of Changer's local chapter, attracting seasoned investors from Europe and the Middle East, alongside budding entrepreneurs exploring tech opportunities. The event featured keynotes by JON Medved, a legendary venture capitalist, and the founder of OURCROWD, the world's largest platform for angel investing.

Expressing support for Dubai's emergence as a global innovation hub, Sheikh Ali Al Maktoum emphasised: "The presence of Changer in Dubai marks a milestone in our journey towards becoming a global innovation hub. We are committed to providing an environment that nurtures and attracts the brightest minds and bolsters their efforts to create transformative companies."

Changer foresees its Dubai chapter uniting at least 100 local high-impact entrepreneurs with international members, aimed at identifying regional talent and relocating 20 new unicorns to the UAE within three years. This move is expected to amplify the growth of the local knowledge economy, generate employment opportunities for young talents, and solidify the UAE's standing as a premier destination for technology and innovation.

"Changer has become a European phenomenon," remarked Arkady Steimans, co-founder of the club, headquartered in Lausanne, Switzerland. "We unite industrial entrepreneurs, train them to be professional angel investors, and 'glue' them together at our shows across European capitals. Opening a chapter in Dubai allows us to invite local, intellectually savvy businessmen to join. Together, our capital and collective wisdom will attract unicorns from the entire MENA region."

The strategic relocation of unicorns to Dubai aligns with the UAE's broader vision to diversify its economy and reduce reliance on traditional sectors like transport, trade, and tourism. By positioning itself as a hub for innovative startups, Dubai aims to usher in a new era of economic growth fueled by cutting-edge technologies and forward-thinking enterprises. Moreover the UAE is in a unique position to forge multilateral agreements thanks to its status as a partner for peace in a world riddled with conflict and economic crises.

As Dubai solidifies its status as the MENA region's unicorn hub, the global business community keenly observes. The success of Changer's initiative could set a precedent for other angel investors and startups eyeing the unprecedented opportunities presented by Dubai and the UAE in innovation and entrepreneurship. Notable figures, including Jason Calacanis, top angel investor in the US, Peter Diamandis, founder of Singularity University, and Sergey Young, a legendary scientist and investor in life-prolonging technologies, are slated to grace Dubai's January 2024 reception, underscoring the city's growing prominence on the global innovation map.


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