Emirates teams up with Sheraa to boost entrepreneurship

The Dubai-based carrier will offer discounted fares for start-ups relocating to the UAE

Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of Sheraa, and Adil Al Ghaith, Emirates' senior vice president, commercial operations, Gulf, Middle East and Central Asia, while signing the agreement. Courtesy Emirates
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Emirates airline is teaming up with the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) to boost the UAE's start-up and entrepreneurial ecosystem.

The Dubai-based carrier will be the strategic partner of Sheraa and will offer discounted fares to and from its network of more 90 destinations for start-ups attending the annual Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival. It will also offer fare discounts to start-ups that relocate to the UAE through Sheraa's programmes.

“The UAE has clearly established itself as a hub for innovation and ideas … drawing in the brightest minds and talent from around the world,” Adnan Kazim, Emirates’ chief commercial officer, said in a statement on Monday. “We will be contributing to those efforts through attracting and connecting start-ups to the UAE with Sheraa across our network … with the end goal of fostering innovation and stimulating valuable economic activity."

Gulf countries are investing in growing an entrepreneurship ecosystem as they look to diversify their economies and fuel post-pandemic growth.

Sheraa, which means "to sail" in Arabic, is Sharjah’s initiative to build a start-up ecosystem in the emirate. It is headquartered at the Sharjah Research Technology and Innovation Park and its hub, launched in September 2018, is based at the University of Sharjah.

This partnership will open up new avenues for collaboration across UAE's entrepreneurial ecosystem, Najla Al Midfa, chief executive of Sheraa, said in the statement.

“Sheraa's community of enterprising founders will be able to capitalise on this exciting partnership to unlock access to [the] global opportunities and scale their businesses to new heights," Ms Al Midfa said.

“This reflects our belief that corporate stakeholders play a critical role in establishing Sharjah as a thriving entrepreneurship hub.”

Since its inception, Sheraa has supported 114 start-ups, which have generated over $125 million in revenue and more than $74m in investment while also creating over 1,300 jobs.

Last month, Sheraa teamed up with foreign direct investment office Invest in Sharjah to support start-ups in the UAE and the region by providing greater access to market opportunities and venture capital.

Attracting foreign investment across sectors is a key priority for the Sharjah government as it cuts its reliance on oil revenues and continues to diversify its economy.

In January last year, Sharjah was rated among the world's top 10 fastest-growing urban areas in the world by the Economist Intelligence Unit.

Emirates will also work alongside Sheraa at its roadshows and events that aim to attract start-ups from across the world to the UAE.