Why entrepreneurs should consider launching new ventures in the UAE ahead of other markets

I’ve long supported and admired entrepreneurs while striving to be one myself.

28/06/2022 by Ali Sajwani

I’ve long supported and admired entrepreneurs while striving to be one myself. And on my journey, I’ve seen the UAE evolve from reliance on fossil fuel-based economic activity to a much wider, world-class business hub.

You might think as a proud Emirati, I’m bound, perhaps, to extol the virtues of launching a business here in the UAE. 

But let me lay down some of the very real reasons why I believe we live in a place perfect for budding and experienced entrepreneurs alike. 

Government backing

Firstly, the government at both individual emirate and federal level has taken huge steps to create a business-friendly environment, from tax breaksfunding and easy set-up options to workspaces, digital nomad visas and support groups.

I honestly believe there are few other nations which have strived to deliver such a wide-reaching beneficial raft of business breaks, services and advantages as right here in the UAE. And it’s no surprise then, even despite the pandemic, to learn that the UAE attracted some US$20.7 billion (AED 76 billion) in foreign direct investments in 2021, up 3.9% from 2020.

Furthermore, in the latest Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM)’s Global Entrepreneurship Index 2022 published earlier this year, the UAE was ranked as the top “global destination for establishing and starting businesses, boasting the most encouraging environment for entrepreneurship,” making it the best place to do business globally.

Infrastructure

With a range of business parks, free zones and sector-specific ‘hubs’, there’s arguably nowhere else in the region that offers such a supportive backbone for entrepreneurs. Add in the world-class road network, some of the world’s busiest airports and advanced shipping network, and it’s a win-win.

A quick glance at global rankings again backs up my thoughts. As per the World Competitiveness Yearbook 2021 published by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD), the UAE was ranked 9th globally and first in the MENA region. The UAE ranked 3rd in government efficiency and 9th globally in economic performance, 8th in business efficiency and 28th in infrastructure. In fact, our nation ranked in the top 10 globally in the most competitive countries in the world.

People

The UAE is a rich cultural melting pot, combining the renowned business acumen of locals with 200 other nationalities. And the nation’s expat community is affluent, intelligent, and presents a ripe testbed for a product that might work globally. All in a day, we can test a new product of people from dozens of different nationalities, discover new ideas and find excellent staff. 

The UAE’s population stands at around 10.08 million, of which  expats make up 8.92 million.

And of the total population, some 6.55m people, (65%), are aged between 25 and 54 – according to a range of statistics. In other words, a majority of the population is of a mature age, and experienced in business. 

Markets

The UAE sits at the heart of the GCC. It’s a perfect testbed, as mentioned above, for new products, but equally, it’s an excellent springboard for regional expansion. With so many other nations so close, it’s the right place to practice expansion strategies. 

Whether you are a youthful entrepreneur with a 4IR business idea, or a seasoned investor with a cautious approach to funding, the UAE seems to offer something for everyone. What is clear is that it has managed to not only survive the economic downturn caused by the pandemic, but that all indicators suggest it will thrive over the next few decades. And who wouldn’t want to be a part of that?

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