DMCC, AstroLabs and Google team up for tech hub launch

Based in the DMCC free zone, the hub is expected to open early next year.

Technology entrepreneurs in the region will have a new space to grow their start-ups as the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), AstroLabs and Google team up to launch a tech hub.

Based in the DMCC free zone, the hub is expected to open early next year, catering to technology entrepreneurs from around the world looking to gain access to high-growth emerging markets, including the Emirates.

AstroLabs, which is a DMCC member, trains Middle East and North Africa (Mena) entrepreneurs. The venture’s third partner, Google for Entrepreneurs, is a social project of the global search company.

The hub is to be known as AstroLabs Dubai and occupy 6,500 square feet at the DMCC, including training spaces where in-house experts on user experience, design and digital marketing will advise entrepreneurs.

Further, the hub is intended to have a mobile device development lab to help start-ups build mobile applications for smartphones.

“With AstroLabs Dubai we aim to put Dubai on the global entrepreneurial map as the best base for high-growth start-ups to access emerging markets and to play a direct role in fostering more successful tech entrepreneurship within the Mena region,” said Muhammed Mekki, a founding partner of AstroLabs.

AstroLabs Dubai is to be the first Google-partner hub in the Middle East and hopes to take advantage of its location, where one-third of the world’s population lie within the span of a four-hour flight.

The AstroLabs founders are experienced entrepreneurs who know how to accelerate the growth of young companies. “We see enormous potential for them to help start-ups across Mena take their ideas to the global stage,” said Bridgette Beam, senior manager at Google for Entrepreneurs.

Last year, AstroLabs’ flagship scaling online start-ups programme trained the founders of more than 100 start-ups from the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Jordan and Lebanon. Some of the entrepreneurs went on to raise more than US$20 million in funding, creating jobs in the technology sector across the region.

The AstroLabs name is a play on the astrolabe, a navigational tool that was refined in the Middle East and used by medieval mariners.

The DMCC is the UAE’s biggest and fastest-growing free zone with more than 90,000 international members. It hopes to lure technology start-ups with greater support.

“Bringing the first Google for Entrepreneurs and AstroLabs Dubai collaboration to Dubai and the DMCC free zone is exciting and the next natural step in enabling start-ups to innovate and grow,” said Gautam Sashittal, the chief executive at DMCC.

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