UAE’s Innovation Agenda Drives Growth, Inclusivity, and Competitiveness

Author: TASC Outsourcing
Jun 22, 2022

Investment in Science, Technology and Innovation paves way for swift economic growth, and governments are realising this more than ever. Sustainable wealth creation which is not dependent on natural or non-renewable resources is the key.

An economy that operates free of oil-resources, and runs on innovation and knowledge, with technology playing a big role in all sectors is the UAE’s stated mission for the coming decades.

Evolving business areas like Crypto, the Metaverse and digitally oriented enterprises are being encouraged by the UAE Government, in partnership with private investors. The usual sectors like Healthcare, Architecture, Renewable Energy, Space Sciences and Manufacturing are also being boosted with tech. The following is a peek into all the initiatives the UAE government is taking with respect to keeping businesses focused on growth.

The Unique National Innovation Strategy

What makes the UAE especially unique is the fact that it has a National Innovation Strategy, one of the only countries in the world to do so. Some of the touchpoints of this strategy include introducing new laws that encourage innovation, giving the private sector and public sector a push towards innovation, developing nation-wide initiatives and more. Technology, water, space, energy, transportation, health and education are some of the government sectors the strategy will focus on.

UAE Innovation Week

The UAE Innovation Week is a yearly celebration of innovation across the country, held in November every year. With over 100 activities spread across each emirate, the festival brings together various governments, educational institutions and private companies from across the globe.

The Government Innovation Lab

One of the most significant breakthrough moments has been the launch of the ‘Government Innovation Lab’ by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation. The lab focuses on identifying new ideas stemming from the UAE, developing them with experts and coming up with innovative solutions. This helped eradicate the various challenges faced by the education, health, social affairs sectors, among others.

Friendlier than ever to new business

According to Wamda, a Dubai based research platform, investments in tech firms in the Middle East and North Africa (excluding Israel) have quadrupled to $2.87 billion last year. This is in comparison to the figure of $654 million in 2020. About half that investment has been in the UAE.

According to New York based CB Insights, there are now three tech start-ups worth at least a billion dollars in Dubai itself. Namely, Kitopi, a cloud kitchen aggregator, Vista Global, a private aviation platform and Emerging Markets Property Group which overlooks classified listing websites in the UAE, Egypt and other countries.

With Sequoia Capital India’s extension to Dubai, the venture fund also initiated its first investment in the Gulf region. California based Sequoia’s India-focused fund was responsible for a $33 million early-stage investment in Lean Technologies Ltd, a Saudi based fintech start-up. According to sources, the fund is also planning another deal.

The Success of Hub71

A global ecosystem for tech companies, start-ups and investors looking to capitalize on growth opportunities, Hub71 is backed by Abu Dhabi state fund Mubadala Investment Co, the SoftBank Vision Fund, and Microsoft (MSFT.O). Over 100 start-ups have been conceived here since its launch in 2019, culled from over 3500 applications.

Dubai CommerCity, a boost to online businesses

Dubai Airport Freezone Authority (DAFZA) is launching the first phase of Dubai CommerCity, a Dh3.2 billion e-commerce free zone. The first phase of the project will include 470,000 square feet being built in Umm Ramool, close to Dubai International Airport, out of a total of 2.1 million square feet. This is projected to significantly boost the future of e-commerce in the area.

The Golden Visa Program

The U.A.E. has a target of 20 tech companies in the $1 billion net-worth bracket by 2031. The Golden Visa program allows entrepreneurs and technology investors to stay for up to 10 years as opposed to normal Visas.

The UAE's key achievements in innovation include:

Building a slew of complexes, research institutions and technical institutes that foster creativity, research and innovation like:

  • Abu Dhabi's Masdar City
  • Dubai Science Park
  • Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park
  • Arab Institution for Science and Technology in Sharjah
  • Technology and Innovation Center in Ras Al Khaimah
  • The Centre of Excellence for Applied Research & Training (CERT)

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