Last week, the United Arab Emirates ranked first globally in entrepreneurship and was deemed “The Most Supportive Environment for Entrepreneurship” by the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM).
With one of the world’s most diverse and thriving economies, the UAE has ranked highly among several world economies over the past few years. 95% of the Gulf country’s firms are small and medium-sized (SMEs) or startups, employing 42% of the UAE’s workforce and accounting for over 40% of its GDP.
Unveiled at Dubai’s mega-event Expo 2020, the GEM report involved a survey with around 2,000 respondents across 47 economies. As a result, GEM determined the best entrepreneurial environments by taking several Entrepreneurial Framework Conditions (EFCs) into consideration, many of which happen to be the direct responsibility of the government in each country.
Aside from having no corporate tax and no import or export duties, the UAE also offers 100% repatriation of revenues and profits and up to 50% reductions in more than 1,500 government fees, making it an ideal place for business.
In 2020 alone, more than $1 billion was invested in startups across the Middle East, 35% of which are headquartered in the UAE.
Dubai and Abu Dhabi have become entrepreneur favorites with some of the most futuristic, world-class interconnected infrastructure, a diverse and multicultural talent pool, and easy access to funding and regional markets.
The UAE topped this year’s GEM report, scoring high in indicators like the availability of good opportunities to start a business, the availability of skills, knowledge, and experience to create an enterprise, as well as confidence in the ability to meet the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report evaluated several framework conditions, such as the availability of entrepreneurial finance, ease of access to entrepreneurial finance, entrepreneurial education at school, government policy, ease of entry, research and development transfers, and social and cultural norms.
GEM found that the UAE had the highest total score by a clear margin, having improved in 11 out of the 13 framework conditions since it was last analysed for the report in 2020. It also scored the highest of all 47 economies in four framework conditions and was the only country that scored as sufficient or better in all framework conditions.
The country’s performance on its governance conditions was the most impressive among its scores for the GEM report this year. On framework conditions “Government Policy: Support and Relevance” and “Government Policy: Taxes and Bureaucracy,” the UAE scored the highest among the report’s Level A economies.
The framework condition “Government Entrepreneurial Programs” was the second-highest among this group, marking a tremendous improvement in the three conditions throughout 2020 and 2021. This represents further progress in the UAE’s efforts to generate more impactful entrepreneurship opportunities and the government’s unconditional support for the SME and startup community due to the UAE’s vision-oriented, forward-thinking leadership.
Drawing from its success in fostering the ideal business environment for startups and multinationals alike, the UAE continues to encourage entrepreneurs from all over the world to start up their businesses in the country.
Over the last 50 years, the UAE government successfully managed to diversify its economy to reduce its reliance on the energy sector and ensure the latest and most innovative products, services, and solutions were constantly being deployed in the country. As a result, the UAE now offers business opportunities in various sectors, such as technology, tourism, health, and hospitality, among many others.
Some of the initiatives set forth by the country’s government include allowing the establishment of fully foreign-owned businesses in the UAE, providing funding for smaller companies, and attracting businesses specializing in technology.
The UAE also established the Entrepreneurial Nation project, which aims to aid innovative companies to help them better establish and develop their businesses in the country.
Another example would be the Operation 300 billion industrial strategy, the largest and most comprehensive plan for developing the UAE’s industrial sector, aiming to provide a push to SMEs. The strategy was named “Operation 300bn” because of its ultimate goal of raising the industrial sector’s contribution to the GDP from AED 133 billion to AED 300 billion by 2031.
The Seed Group, a company of the Royal Family of Dubai, has played an instrumental role in bringing international businesses of all sizes that offer innovative products and services to the country, helping them expand their presence in the region and promoting an even greater uptake in technology across potentially every sector imaginable.
Seed Group also has its own accelerator program, based in Dubai, which assists potential startups looking to grow in stature, size, or in the Middle East to achieve their expansion goals. It offers the necessary early-stage assistance to accelerate the growth of startups and help them eventually become more self-sufficient down the line.
Over the past 16 years, Seed Group has built several strategic relationships with firms from all over the world. As a result, there are now over 70 companies working under the group’s umbrella through investments or strategic partnerships.
The Seed Group’s work is also in line with the UAE government’s numerous digital strategies, such as the UAE Strategy for Artificial Intelligence 2017-2031, UAE Digital Government Strategy 2025, Dubai Startup Support Strategy, Dubai Smart City Accelerator, and The Projects of 50, which include a variety of digital and entrepreneurial initiatives.
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