The UAE ticks all the right boxes for start-ups
Dubai has emerged as a flourishing fintech hub for the Middle East and the North Africa (Mena) region because of the vision and able leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
The emirate has been ticking all the right boxes since the start of the new millennium to attract startups. Data shows that the digital economy contributes about 4.3 per cent to the UAE’s gross domestic product (GDP), or around Dh100 billion. Dubai is the hub for the bulk of the 1,400 startups, 90 investment funds in the digital sector and 12 business incubators, whose cumulative valuation is estimated to be around Dh90 billion.
The outlook is rosy and will grow further because of the UAE’s bid to embrace digital transformation, especially in the FinTech sector, and the country is on a par with New York, Berlin, London and Singapore.
For instance, Dubai had introduced a raft of reforms and initiatives last November, including changes to personal and family laws in the country and a retirement visa scheme. The move was aimed to make our country more expat-friendly.
Our nation is a “big hub of technology and innovation” as Dubai is the centre of gravity in that space.
The DIFC FinTech Hive is one of the driving forces of innovation for it is the first and largest financial technology accelerator in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) region, as it is located in the heart of DIFC, and as part of the DIFC Innovation Hub that is home to over 350 innovation companies. T
he FinTech Hive’s highly competitive flagship FinTech accelerator program is run in collaboration with the region’s leading financial institutions such as ADIB, ENBD, Standard Chartered Bank, Visa, Zurich and more who work with selected start-ups each year in developing their solutions to collaborate in integrating and offering new products and services.
Over the past few years, the accelerator has successfully driven the growth of FinTech, InsurTech, RegTech and Islamic FinTech startups looking to tap into the MEASA market and capitalise on unlimited opportunities in the region by connecting them with top tier organizations in each vertical.
As it stands, the FinTech Hive has accelerated over 120 startups through its programmes, and FinTech firms based in DIFC have now raised more than Dh1.1 billion ($298.8 million). Furthermore, the FinTech Hive’s efforts have expanded to include the AccelerateHer programme, our female talent and career mentorship program that we launched to support and empower women in financial services and help them play a more active role in the development of the region’s financial services landscape.
The programme to date has conducted over 60 dedicated workshops with 48 mentorship pairings and we plan on increasing the size of our cohort each year to ensure women have the platform to develop and progress in their careers.
Our ambitions at the FinTech Hive grow each year as we strengthen our ecosystem partnerships across various industries and grow our global hub network around the world to harness innovation and creativity and continue disrupting the financial services industry.
Our nation is a big hub of technology and innovation, as Dubai is the centre of gravity in that space.
(The author is the Executive Vice-President of FinTech Hive at DIFC)
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