Digital transformation initiatives help entrepreneurs thrive in Dubai's business scene

Collaboration between private and public sectors, corporates and SMEs to create an inclusive ecosystem, attracting more entrepreneurs to the UAE

Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, speaks at the Tie Global Summit at Expo 2020's Dubai Exhibition Centre. Leslie Pableo / The National
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The competitive nature of Dubai's business scene may pose a challenge for budding entrepreneurs, but the emirate's dedication to nurturing businesses supported by its advanced digital transformation push can help them reap rewarding results, the president and chief executive of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry said.

Hamad Buamim called on entrepreneurs to continuously reinvent themselves in the age of the new economy powered by emerging technologies and come up with innovative solutions to address economic demands not only for the UAE, but also for the region and the world.

Dubai is not easy. There's quite a lot of competition being an open city and this creates challenging yet very rewarding entrepreneur journeys
Hamad Buamim, president and chief executive of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry

Collaboration between the private and public sectors, alongside the work of multinationals, corporates and small and medium-sized enterprises, will create an inclusive ecosystem that in turn will attract more entrepreneurs to the city and the nation, he added.

“Dubai is not easy. There's quite a lot of competition being an open city and this creates challenging yet very rewarding entrepreneur journeys,” Mr Buamim said at the opening of the TiE Global Summit at Expo 2020's Dubai Exhibition Centre on Wednesday.

“We have been planting the seeds many years ago so it can become the next Silicon Valley of this region at least … and now it is the regional home of thriving start-ups.”

Dubai's economic strength, spurred by government initiatives and the resilience of the business sector, has been reflected in global indexes. The emirate recently ranked among the top 35 cities in the world when it comes to attracting venture capital and the funding of start-ups, the first Innovation in Business Index from the Netherlands-based financial platform Finom showed.

Last month, the Dubai Innovation Index, a report developed by the Dubai Chamber and PricewaterhouseCoopers, revealed that the emirate last year led the Arab world in innovation and was positioned 20th globally. It ranked ahead of global cities such as Beijing, Shanghai and Sao Paulo, scoring high in the areas of infrastructure, government and society.

The upwards trajectory in Dubai's economic expansion is also mirrored in the Dubai Chamber’s membership, which welcomed about 16,000 new businesses in the first nine months of 2021, an increase of 5.8 per cent, pushing its total membership to 275,000.

Existing regional start-ups made the strategic decision to move and relocate to Dubai to fuel their growth at the earliest stages, Mr Buamim said. Being at the centre of the Middle East, Africa and South-East Asia, the emirate is a gateway to serve a population numbering in the billions, among which are some of the youngest and brightest minds.

“Dubai is known for its diverse and maturing ecosystem in this economy, whether it's incubators or accelerators. It also has very vibrant, smart and advanced government services that support the business community,” he added.

Success stories such as ride-hailing service Careem and e-commerce platforms and are among the home-grown start-ups that Mr Buamim cited as a blueprint for aspiring entrepreneurs.

Feedback from more than 12,000 entrepreneurs that have gone through Dubai Chamber programmes revealed that they have come out more resilient, Mr Buamim said, and they will continue supporting businesses and aid economic growth.

Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties and e-commerce platform, said Dubai's business scene has cultivated a no-fear culture, inspiring entrepreneurs to push themselves further to progress not only for personal success but also for the wider benefit to society.

“If you are not able to dream, you'll never do it. The pandemic taught us that we will never stop and we will never close,” he said.

Mr Alabbar also challenged entrepreneurs — those who have enjoyed success and who are in a position to have this emulated by others — by giving back.

“You have a duty besides having the money and success; what are you doing about it? Are we delivering? Are we paying back?”

In June, Dubai's Chamber of Commerce was restructured and split into three separate entities: the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy and Dubai International Chamber. They will be responsible for boosting international trade, advancing the digital economy and protecting the interests of entrepreneurs and business owners.

The TiE Global Summit, which runs until Thursday, aims to foster entrepreneurship through mentoring, networking, education, funding and incubation, with a focus on giving back to the community and nurturing the next generation of entrepreneurs.

Updated: December 16, 2021, 6:57 AM