The United Arab Emirates and Dubai have become major targets for foreign investment over the past few years. Many investors are keen to get a foothold in the region's growing startup ecosystem, which has seen many major success stories. Dubai is an attractive proposition for any entrepreneur, and the UAE government has gone to great lengths to ensure that the city can become a hub of innovation fuelled by the latest in technology.
In 2020 and 2021, Dubai alone accounted for more than 30% of all foreign direct investment (FDI) in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. In addition, the city was the number one area for FDI in the Arab world in 2022. Even in the wake of the global pandemic, the UAE has proved to be a remarkably resilient and attractive market for investment. Here are some of the reasons why.
Dubai Startup Success Stories
Dubai has become a haven for entrepreneurs who are drawn in by the successes of other startups founded and built in the city. One of the best Dubai-based success stories in recent years was the ride-hailing service Careem. This platform emphasises security and user experience while delivering service based on regional cultural norms.
Some of the features offered by Careem that set it apart from its direct competitors included things like matching female drivers with female passengers and allowing payments with cash. As a direct competitor to other ride-hailing services, it raised more than $700 million in investment in its first six years. In 2019, Uber acquired Careem for an incredible $3.1 billion.
Other Dubai-based startup success stories include logistics and e-commerce support app Fetchr, real estate portal Bayut and sustainable retail company the Green Ecostore. Each company has faced challenges, but the entrepreneurial landscape of the UAE has provided them with the ideal conditions to thrive and achieve profitability.
The UAE has been one of the biggest adopters of technology in the MENA region. Dubai is ranked as the smartest city in the region, alongside Abu Dhabi, thanks to its application of data and digital services. Startups in Dubai are able to benefit from impressive technological infrastructure, which includes high-speed internet and access to data centres.
Entrepreneurs in Dubai and the UAE can benefit from an Arabic SEO agency to help build their online presence and gain access to foreign direct investment. For digital services such as Careem, this is an essential service, and one that provides invaluable results.
Throughout Dubai, technology can be utilised by entrepreneurs to help improve business prospects and gain access to opportunities for further development. In addition, the region has long attracted a savvy and technology-focused workforce, meaning that it's easy to find highly skilled employees.
Technology isn't the only thing that has made Dubai the ideal place for entrepreneurs. The city has also adopted a set of economic initiatives designed to encourage startups and allow for faster growth. One of the most significant is the establishment of free zones throughout Dubai. These are special areas within the city which are dedicated to supporting specific business activities while also allowing foreigners to invest more easily.
Free zones make it much simpler to register businesses and apply for visas while also providing all the space and resources growing businesses need. In addition, Dubai has favourable tax laws to help promote growth. These laws mean that corporations only need to pay 9% tax, and only after a certain threshold has been passed. Transferring profits from a business based in Dubai to other countries is also usually free.