Dubai is helping tech start-ups to script global success stories, Crown Prince says

Sheikh Hamdan meets with Telegram chief executive Pavel Durov

Dubai’s vibrant entrepreneurial ecosystem is enabling technology start-ups to script global success stories, according to the emirate's Crown Prince, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed.

Sheikh Hamdan made the remarks following a meeting with Pavel Durov, the chief executive and founder of Dubai-based instant messaging company Telegram.

“Dubai’s ability to provide a productive, growth-oriented environment for technology start-ups is validated by the fact that some the world’s most exciting and successful digital companies like Telegram have chosen to run their ventures out of the emirate,” Sheikh Hamdan said. “We continue to welcome great talent and ideas to Dubai, which offers a nurturing ecosystem for their development.”

Telegram, which offers cloud-based instant messaging and VoIP services is valued at more than $20 billion. It is expected to have one billion active users per month by 2022 from 570 million users currently, according to a statement by the Dubai Media office on Saturday. The company's popularity, like that of competitor Signal, has soared in recent weeks after users expressed privacy concerns about Facebook-owned WhatsApp's changes to its service terms.

“The start-up ecosystem, advanced infrastructure and business-friendly legislation offered by Dubai has made it a hub for talent and entrepreneurs aspiring to go global from all over the world,” Mr Durov said.

Telegram is among a number of successful technology ventures to have developed in Dubai in recent years. Others include Ride hailing company Careem, which was acquired by Uber for $3.1bn last year and e-commerce firm Souq.com, which was bought by Amazon for $580 million in 2017.

The emirate is also home to Media.net, one of the world's largest ad tech companies, Wrappup, the developer of an AI-based productivity app acquired by US tech firm Voicera, and Emerging Markets Property Group – the parent company behind the Bayut and Dubizzle portals.

The UAE has been ranked first in the region and fourth globally in the latest Global Entrepreneurship Index, outperforming major global economies such as the US, the UK, Australia, some EU countries, China, Japan and South Korea.

The UAE also placed second in an index of national governments' response to Covid-19 and its affect on the entrepreneurial sector, according to the Ministry of Economy.

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