Tuesday, 12 December 2017 | 13:17 WIB

Dubai: a Destination of Choice for Startups

Dubai: a Destination of Choice for Startups (ist)

JAKARTA, NETRALNEWS.COM - Cornerstone of social and economic development, innovation is key to promoting economic growth. The United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Dubai especially, has set its sights on implementing today what other cities in the world will begin implementing 10 years later. Innovation remains the focal point in Dubai’s 10X initiative and is regarded as the means to achieve our future-ready city status.

As Dubai positions itself as one of the global capitals of innovation, entrepreneurship is undoubtedly at the forefront of that mission. The Emirate’s enabling environment offers plenty of incentives to prospective entrepreneurs and makes it a launchpad for ideas. Dubai is at the crossroads of the world’s air traffic and has successfully positioned itself as a hub for logistics and travel, linking the East with the West. This ease of access to established and emerging markets gives startups in Dubai the opportunity to think globally from inception.

Quite recently, Dubai was ranked 29 globally in the Startup Cities Index, by Nestpick, a Berlin-based startup which looks at 85 of the world’s most dynamic startup cities. Dubai leads over some of the other successful startup ecosystems, such as New York, London and Tokyo. There has been a tremendous increase in the number of startups established in the city, which can be attributed to the strong support and a high-level of transparency received from the government and regulatory authorities.

A number of startup success stories have emerged from Dubai. A Dubai-born car booking service launched in 2012, Careem has quickly become an essential tool for thousands of people looking for transportation - not just in the UAE but across 16 cities in the wider MENA region. Another startup to have witnessed similar success is Souq, which is the most visited online shopping destination in the region, amassing 1.5 million visitors per day to its website. The global e-commerce leader Amazon has now completed the acquisition of Souq, a historical development for the Arab region and for the entrepreneurship landscape in the Middle East. These are two among many, which have led to entrepreneurs and investors increasingly seeing Dubai as an entryway to achieving success.

Dubai has been actively developing national innovation strategies and frameworks, across different industries, to drive social and economic growth. Efforts to diversify Dubai’s economy have successfully increased the contribution of the non-oil sector to more than 95% of the city’s GDP. The Dubai Plan 2021, in line with UAE’s Vision 2021, focuses on moving towards a sustainable economic model, driven by productivity and innovation. 

To achieve this ambition, Dubai is paving way for innovation and entrepreneurship across multiple industries, including tourism, by being the podium that amplifies the significance of constant evolution and development. In line with the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Ruler of Dubai and UAE Vice President and Prime Minister, and as part of the Tourism Vision 2020, Dubai’s Department of Tourism & Commerce Marketing plans to welcome 20 million visitors per year by 2020. This vision calls for an increasing number of creative and innovative solutions in order to enhance the overall visitor experience and destination preference. As Dubai looks to further enrich tourism offerings and ensure the sector continues to significantly contribute to the economic outlook, more of these cutting-edge solutions will become essential. 

In an effort towards discovering a range of innovative solutions and facilitating further growth of the startup ecosystem, Dubai Tourism has launched the first-ever Dubai Tourism Startup Competition-Futurism, in collaboration with GITEX Future Stars. The competition aims to encourage pioneering thinking, by inviting bright minds from around the world to showcase their innovative ideas, products and business plans that will enhance hospitality services and the overall visitor experience, in turn revolutionizing the city’s travel and tourism sectors. It is designed to bring creative technologies and innovation to the forefront of the industry, and to provide a stage for travel technology startups to come together and create solutions for travelers from around the world. 

The competition is one of many platforms Dubai has created to offer innovators a shot at success. Over the past decade, Dubai has acknowledged the significant role startups play in the evolution of the city, and in heralding the future. Dubai is fostering an environment for startup success. A strong network of think-tanks and incubators based in the city, combined with a thriving private sector, and an ideal geographic proximity to key markets, has allowed Dubai to become a notable destination for innovative ideas and startups to flourish. As Dubai continues on its path towards innovation and excellence, the growth of successful startups will act as an accelerator propelling the city, and its tourism, to new heights.