In the last three years, there’s been a clear movement for innovation. Most of the tech companies are customised for the local environment; copy-paste technology does not fit the bill anymore. There are several cutting-edge technologies that have completely changed the landscape in the recruitment process, food technology and e-healthcare in Dubai.
Angels and venture capitalists are also growing steadily, shifting focus from traditional investments, such as real estate, to tech startups. While Eureeca is a crowdfunding platform that connects startups to a pool of investors, Magnitt also connects startups to investors.
The population of United Arab Emirates has exploded from less than a million a decade ago to more than 9 million today; about 80% of those are expats. “Going by the demography of the population, tech startups are, obviously, expat-driven, but more and more Emiratis are coming up with innovative ideas,” adds Abdulwahab.
There’s a growing participation of women in tech startups across MENA as well. “Women comprise about one-third of our course participants around the region and about 25% of our current membership base. We regularly host events to encourage women in the tech sector and strive to create an inclusive community,” says Mekki.
The service sector in Dubai, which accounts for more than 70% of total GDP, also provides a significant prospect to startups by giving them a chance to showcase their ideas to potential investors. There are plenty of support groups, meet-ups, and a growing number of co-working spaces to help facilitate interactions as well.
Summing up the growing attraction of Dubai as a tech startup hub, Abdulwahab says:
Dubai is a whole world in a small city. The emirate is way advanced in technology when compared with other Middle Eastern countries. Many of the biggest companies in the world are directly and indirectly represented in the emirate; it is a financial destination. The eclectic range of customers, demands and demography gives rise to innovative tech start-ups to suit their needs.