UAE aims to become Home of 20 Unicorns by 2031
The United Arab Emirates aims to become home to 20 startups worth more than $1 billion each, known as ‘unicorns’, under the UAE’s Entrepreneurial Nation initiative, in the next decade, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Ahmad al-Falasi, said on Wednesday.
At the launch of the Entrepreneurial Nation project in Dubai, Mr. Falasi said the UAE aimed to do more to solidify its position as a top destination for international investment in the Gulf.
“When it comes to entrepreneurship specifically it’s always about competition,” Falasi told Reuters when asked about competition with Saudi Arabia. “Every country is different; Saudi Arabia is a different market than UAE. Entrepreneurs view the UAE as a platform for growth into the region.”
The UAE has an advantage attracting foreign capital because its population is overwhelmingly foreign workers. “So foreigners feel much more confident starting their business in a country, which has 90% expats as opposed to other countries.
The UAE has announced visa and business reforms aimed at attracting more expatriates to live and work, after businesses suffered last year from the corona virus outbreak. The government plans to offer funding in several formats, including equity, direct lending and loan guarantees, to boost startups and entrepreneurship.
The minister said “Our aim today is to transform from a regional to a global entrepreneurship hub.” And SME will play a crucial role. Start-ups and SMEs are the backbone of the UAE economy, with the government introducing economic support packages to help business owners weather the Covid-19 pandemic. It has also taken measures to create a more attractive environment for foreign investment by easing visa rules, liberating company ownership rules and updating laws.
The programme under the UAE’s Entrepreneurial Nation initiative will start this month, according to the ministry’s presentation. The Entrepreneurial Nation, a unified destination for start-ups from inception to growth, encompasses three stages or tracks. The Skill-Up Academy is intended to equip participants with entrepreneurial skills and to be suited to a variety of participants, including students, recent graduates, employees, retirees, homemakers and jobseekers.
The Scale-Up programme will back fast-growing, revenue-earning companies that are more than three years old to expand and eventually become unicorns.
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