Tech startups in the UAE: the next chapter for this oil-rich region?

tech startup

The United Arab Emirates is undoubtedly one of the wealthiest nations in the world. An advanced economy creates a big marketplace in which many businesses such as startups can spread their wings.

From high-end luxury shopping apps (search for The Luxury Closet to see this Dubai startup in action) to smart recycling systems in Dubai, startups have taken the UAE to new heights. A culture of innovation aims to characterize the UAE’s new economic strategy. And, it is aggressively advancing the booming startup industry and rapidly growing the total funding economy.

Do you follow the latest startup news? From founding year, technology startups and established tech companies, funding round news, and total funding investments account for more than 90 percent of the total value of sales in Dubai. That’s a huge number. The government aims to reduce its reliance on oil and gas incomes. And, as a result, their economy is diversifying into one of the most progressive.

Dubai-based companies are the biggest tech employer in the world. The government has created a tech and entrepreneurial platform second to none in the Middle East and North Africa. They have eyes on becoming the biggest in the world, thanks to top startups and ever-increasing investments. Simply put, the government is driving the Fourth Industrial Revolution: digitalisation of business and service to create a global market with total access for all.

The UAE unabashedly promotes its forward-thinking economic strategies. Massive government investment, venture capital investors, updated business laws, and cutting-edge internet infrastructure makes Dubai fertile ground for startups and technology innovation. Money raised for top startups exceeded all total funding expectations in 2020. This tech demand will skyrocket in the future from customers and users in and outside the United Arab Emirates!

Are tech startups the next chapter for this oil-rich region in the Middle East and North? We at Trade License Zone believe that these types of startups are the bread-and-butter of Dubai. They’ve raised more money across more deals than ever before. It’s clear that there’s space for everyone to do business in the Middle East!

Tech Startups in Dubai, UAE

The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted companies, countries and the global economy. It showed that e-commerce and digital transformation was sorely lacking for the majority of businesses and companies. In the UAE, our top startups are setting the pace for the rest of the world.

Dubai has more than 70 universities and colleges alone in its burgeoning education sector. That’s 140,000 students and about half of them study business and tech courses. Think of Dubai as San Francisco’s Silicon Valley – without all overinflated housing costs, that is.

Venture capital funding is pouring into Dubai for its top startups – and the world’s appetite for UAE and Middle East business is still growing.

Some of the biggest tech companies in the world have their roots firmly in Dubai. Computer vision is the world’s focus right now. Users and customers benefit from advanced technologies that make it easier, faster, safer and simpler to do ordinary business things.

Among the top startups in the Middle East, Careem was recently acquired by Uber USD 1 billion. Souq was also recently acquired: Amazon paid USD 1 billion for it. Another Dubai success story is fetchr, a top startup that revolutionized the shipping and delivery industry in the Middle East. In fact, there are more than 1,600 businesses founded and operating in Dubai’s Internet City (DIC) in 2020 and 2021.

That’s the beauty of startups in Dubai and the UAE’s free zones: they create an ecosystem that helps to support each industry and company to grow as top startups into world-leading businesses.

From banking, education, media, to website development and contactless pay services, platforms are producing next-level customer service.

Online Marketplace

The number of e-commerce companies and website platform startups operating in the UAE increased by 13 percent from 2017 to 2020. Despite the disruption in 2020, e-commerce companies’ value skyrocketed by 53 percent. This demand has not slowed in 2021 and the trend will continue.

The COVID-19 pandemic showed that customers are more inclined to buy online – with the right tools and the right online platform.

The UAE has a very strong and rapidly growing digital economy. The value raised contributed to 4.4 percent of the UAE’s GDP in 2019. That total amount is predicted to double within the next decade, according to a report by the University of Wollongong in Dubai.

It is up to the management team to expand a company’s future. Reskilling staff, education, and an outlook focused on clients, provides the perfect platform for innovation and organisational change. The Luxury Closet is one such online marketplace that has emerged as one of the most successful in Dubai to date.

While e-commerce accounts for 90 percent of the UAE’s digital economy, another massive growth point is contactless payment services. Dubai has a 100 percent smartphone and internet penetration, and 85 percent of all payments are now contactless.

Investment Funding

Investment funding rounds for top startups to business incubators are receiving greater investments than ever before. Dubai has its own startup incubation programmes, innovation hubs and accelerators that promote entrepreneurship.

These platforms help raise funding for startups in Dubai across business sectors. Jobs raised by these activities increase investment – with the additional funding used for more jobs to grow the top startups even quicker.

Zero tax and 100% ownership by foreign investors means startups provide a golden opportunity for both investors and entrepreneurs alike to reap greater financial rewards. The UAE is a business-friendly country and it is doing all it can to boost its economy and benefit its citizens and residents.

An investor funding round generates much-needed capital for ventures. The total funding for startups usually runs from AED 100,000 and into the millions – depending on the products or services being developed.

These startup incubators and accelerators help ideas come to reality. If you have a good business idea, there are specialized startup incubators in every free zone in Dubai to support you on your journey to success.

If you’re interested in investment funding or you’re seeking assistance with your startup, then join us at Trade License Zone.

Banking, Customers and Financial Services

Another part of the UAE’s growth came from the financial industry. We all know that banks offer online banking services as well as banking apps for mobile devices as financial products. Fintech startups are creating new ways for customers to bank – and for banks to better serve their customers.

From contactless payment services to blockchain technologies, fintech innovations are advancing the financial industry in leaps and bounds. Automation and digital-only banking are some of the ground-breaking technologies that will transform the way we bank tomorrow.

Healthcare and The Future

The fintech space isn’t the only one that’s booming in Dubai. Health tech startups are muscling their way into investment funds and funding rounds. Health insurance platforms, telemedicine, and medical innovations are creating huge advances – and profits. Dubai’s innovators have developed apps that help you book appointments, choose healthcare insurance and healthcare providers, more medical service systems through websites, and wearable tech that screens your body for early signs of illness, and medicine delivery services too.

The government is nurturing this healthcare hub in Dubai for the entire MENA region. And, for good reason. Top startups generated USD 11 billion in healthcare technology sales in 2020. Investment into this technology sector through numerous funding rounds around the world is expanding this market into one of the biggest in the world.

Create your own Tech Startup in the UAE

Setting up startups in Dubai isn’t difficult—it requires an expert’s skill. To avoid your visas, residence permits and business licenses being rejected or delayed, it’s a good idea to work with a local specialist like Trade License Zone. We specifically focus on business setup – and everything that it encompasses.

All you need to provide is some basic documentation and a little information about your business. Then, sit back and let the experts take care of the rest. We’ll manage your visa fees, license and tech startup visa applications (and visa application fees), your residence permit, access and communicate with all relevant departments and authorities and report back when you’re ready to begin trading.

Contact us to get a personalized quotation based on your business activity