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UAE top choice for Arab digital entrepreneurs & investors

HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum
HH Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum

For the fourth year in a row, the UAE has remained the region’s tech startup hub, home to about one-third of all MENA investors, with the number of venture capitalists, 19, being highest in the region.

The second edition of the ‘State of Digital Investment in MENA 2013-2016’ report by Dubai SME – the agency of Dubai Economy mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise sector – made the finding in partnership with ArabNet.

The report covers 150 funding institutions and 760 deals concluded in the region in the last four years. The UAE accounted for 90 percent of the $900 million invested in tech start-ups across the region in 2016.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, said that the investment environment within the UAE has witnessed significant changes over the past years under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, with significant opportunities for creativity and innovation opening up as the world moves towards knowledge-based investments.

Sheikh Hamdan added that the Government of Dubai has made it a priority to attract investments in line with the UAE Vision 2021 and Dubai Plan 202,1 as well as to position the UAE as a preferred global investment destination.

“The directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to develop an investor-friendly economy and provide data to ensure successful investments whether locally or from around the world, have led to tangible and documented achievements as the UAE maintained its position an investment destination of choice in the region,” Sheikh Hamdan said. “The UAE has clear legislative and regulatory frameworks that not only protect the rights and interests of investors but also enable emerging investors and entrepreneurs to achieve the highest degree of success.”

His Highness pointed out that Dubai is keen to put this approach into practice by continuing to develop the potential of the investment climate and provide it with all the elements of success to keep pace with the latest global economic trends.

“The ‘State of Digital Investment in MENA 2013-2016’ shows that the UAE has led the Middle East and North Africa in attracting investments into digital entrepreneurship,” Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME said at the report’s launch at the ArabNet Digital Summit 2017.

“The report reflects the overall strategic focus of the UAE, particularly Dubai, on supporting innovation and investments in digital economy as well as in promoting the country as the preferred choice of Arab entrepreneurs and investors,” Al Janahi added.

Al Janahi said Dubai SME seeks to provide an attractive environment that encourages entrepreneurial talents who have innovative ideas to step forward and translate them into successful projects.

“MENA witnessed a record year in technology startup funding in 2016, more than 30 new investment institutions launched, and more than $900 million was invested in 2016 alone, more than the value of all investments between 2013-2015 combined,” said Omar Christidis, founder and CEO of ArabNet.

The UAE is far ahead of the pack regarding the number of investments per country, with 234 deals from 2013-2016, at least double the next set of countries. Tech start-up investments in 2016 hit a record $900 million with the UAE in the lead, explained by the two mega-rounds raised by Careem ($350 million) and Souq.com ($275 million).

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