Diverse SMEs foster economy

Careem, co-founded by Magnus Olsson, is a small business success story in the UAE. (Victor Besa for The National)
Careem, co-founded by Magnus Olsson, is a small business success story in the UAE. (Victor Besa for The National)

Our profiles of 43 local small and medium businesses in 2015 reflect the breadth of local entrepreneurship. They provide a wide range of products and services in fields as diverse as education, health care, media, property and even something as simple as car washing services. They are owned by people from a range of backgrounds and nationalities, coming from across the world.

The UAE reaps the rewards from being seen as a place where all these people can establish businesses, as reflected in this country being the top worldwide emerging markets destination for career advancement among the millennial generation, according to the Global Shapers Annual Survey 2015. It is also consistently preferred as the country in which most Arab youth would like to live and work, for four consecutive years in the annual ASDA’A Burson-Marsteller’s Arab Youth Survey.

This is no coincidence but the result of years of effort to make the UAE business-friendly as part of the campaign to diversify the economy into non-oil sectors. It’s equally important that we maintain this positive image and continue to appeal to entrepreneurs – especially with oil prices recently reaching an 11-year low.

For this to happen, the correct balance has to be struck between allowing businesses to operate with as little red tape as possible but also within a strong legal framework to protect against attempted abuses of the system. One important part of the regulatory support ought to be the long-awaited insolvency law reforms. This shoujld include decriminalising the bouncing of cheques and reforming bankruptcy procedures by allowing companies to renegotiate the terms of their debts with creditors. Used in conjunction with the newly established Al Etihad Credit Bureau, it will allow those with innovative ideas and a good work ethic to fulfil their potential.

The diversity of the local SME sector strengthens our economy. We need to ensure that it continues to grow smoothly and sustainably so we can keep attracting the best and brightest.

Published: December 27, 2015 04:00 AM