More than 22,000 small businesses were established in Dubai last year, despite emerging economic headwinds.
Dubai SME, part of the Department of Economic Development, estimates that the number of small and medium-sized enterprises jumped by 18 per cent last year compared to 2014.
While the weak oil price and strong dollar have hit many companies hard, the chief executive of Dubai SME believes the current situation was far from a crisis. “This is not 2008 and nothing like 2008. We have some challenges, but all businesses face challenges,” said Abdel Baset Al Janahi.
“The number of people opening new businesses in Dubai – an 18 per cent jump year-on-year – shows me that we have a brilliant framework and an ecosystem that allows SMEs to thrive.”
He said most SMEs that set up in Dubai were looking regionally rather than locally.
“I would not tell a first-time food and beverage owner to open in Dubai Mall because he will never afford the rent. I say remember that you are small and build, that is a way to success and many SMEs are successful here, building to medium-size companies.”
It was not known how many SMEs closed over this period.
A culture of entrepreneurship and a business-friendly environment has encouraged start-ups in many sectors.
“We opened here in Dubai just four months ago,” said Fredrik Schauman, the founder and chief executive of bfound, a local search platform that helps SMEs with online presence.
“We now have 500 paying clients and we are exactly where our business plan expected.
“Yes, we have had some problems with payments, but in our business 80 per cent of SMEs are not online. And in Europe only about 5 per cent of businesses are not online, so the opportunity for sales and growth is massive here.”
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