Startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) play a pivotal role in driving economic growth in the UAE. With SMEs representing nearly 94 per cent of the total number of companies operating in the country and accounting for over 86 per cent of the private sector workforce, actively driving the growth of SMEs is a strategic imperative that complements the economic diversification goals of the UAE’s leadership. The UAE offers the perfect platform for startups to thrive. In addition to the importance of innovative tech enterprises being enshrined in the strategic vision statements of the nation, there are tangible initiatives that support innovators to convert their ideas to reality.
For example, the Smart Dubai strategy and Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 are among the drivers of the startup culture, promoting innovation and creating robust platforms for young innovators to accomplish their projects.
The Dubai Smart City Accelerator, launched by Dubai Silicon Oasis, brings together diverse stakeholders to promote, incubate, and drive innovative tech enterprises in diverse growth sectors. Smart-techs also play a central role in creating jobs of the future – aligned with the aspirations of the tech-savvy youth.
Further, initiatives, such as Expo 2020 Dubai’s Youth Connect scheme that encourages young people to become the innovators and thought leaders of tomorrow and the UAE Youth programme targeting 21-to-30-year-olds and designed to help innovative young people gain a rounded education in business, promoting localised innovation. The government’s committed efforts, illustrated in Dubai granting top 100 Arab startups – picked by the World Economic Forum – five-year visas and the support of the private sector, will further fuel the rise of startups.
So how does creating a start-up culture benefit the nation in the long-term? It creates unprecedented opportunities for young innovators to pursue their entrepreneurial dreams. A report by Dubai’s Department of Economic Development underlines the role that Dubai SME plays in promoting entrepreneurial talent, complementing National Agenda 2021 to position the UAE among the world’s best in entrepreneurship.
Nearly 35,000 aspiring entrepreneurs benefited from the start-up, advisory, and development services of Dubai SME as of March 2019, with over 6,053 Emirati enterprises launched and the Hamdan Innovation Incubator enabling 571 projects to take off.
Additionally, the emergence of new enterprises contributes significantly to the economy by creating new jobs and building a local supply chain. This, in turn, powers the growth of the local economy – a win-win for the nation. With the UAE’s robust economic environment, encouraging new enterprises and more innovators leveraging the opportunity, the nation is building strong fundamentals for the future.
As the UAE focuses on digital transformation, this will contribute to new business models and new job profiles. Investing in startups, thus, serves in future-proofing the economy and ensuring that the digital-savvy youth of today are prepared and ready for the jobs of the future. Ranked as the most important stand-out nation alongside Singapore and New Zealand by Digital Planet, the UAE’s credentials in providing the best environment for innovation in the Arab world, as per the Global Innovation Index, underpins the fertile environment for startups here.
With the emergence of co-working spaces, a focus on entrepreneurial training, remarkable incubation support, and the opportunities arising from Expo 2020, the UAE is well poised to becoming the premier destination for startups of all ages and across all sectors globally. The substantial-tech entrepreneurship in the UAE’s supportive environment has already contributed to high start-up density, supported by a rich network of support services and foundational programs to drive long-term innovation. This is an investment in the nation’s future – ensuring sustainable economic growth and creating incremental value.
This article has been published by Khaleej Times.