x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Facebook's arrival marks the latest prize in Dubai Internet City's boom

Facebook's first office in the Middle East is just one of 76 new companies to have launched in Dubai Internet City this year.

Facebook's first office in the Middle East is just one of 76 new companies to have launched in Dubai Internet City this year.

In the first five months of the year, the number of new businesses in the free zone has increased compared with the same period last year, with many of them specialising in the social media, software development and internet and multimedia sectors.

Combined, these three sectors accounted for nearly three quarters of all new businesses, while e-commerce companies comprised a smaller portion.

Dubai Internet City (DIC) attracted 166 new companies last year, and the free zone says it is on track to surpass that figure this year.

Malek Sultan Al Malek, the managing director of DIC says the free zone is attracting a mixture of multinational corporations and small, local start-ups. Major corporations such as Microsoft, Google, Dell, Yahoo and Cisco already have a presence there.

"We should have a balance [of both small and big businesses as] multinational companies create new opportunities for homegrown companies," said Mr Al Malek, who is also the managing director of Dubai Outsource Zone (DOZ).

DIC plans within monthsformally to launch an incubator to promote entrepreneurship and technological innovation. It would also provide seed funding to help nurture businesses.

Mr Al Malek says the mixture of companies should help smaller firms link up to bigger brands, such as Facebook, while each would provide the other with products and services.

Some of these partnerships could help to create new technologies for the market in the future.

"The challenge is when you are in a dynamic industry [such as] ICT [information and communications technology], you have to be running at the same speed [as competitors]," said Mr Al Malek.

DIC launched in 2000 and says it is the biggest ICT business park in the Middle East and North Africa.

The cluster now houses more than 1,400 firms, according to Mr Al Malek.

Both DIC and DOZ are members of Tecom Investments, which was established in 2005 to manage and develop different business parks within Dubai.

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