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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 April 2019

The UAE is in the vanguard of the regional tech sector

Long-term visas for start-up founders could take the country’s economy to new heights

The UAE is creating an ecosystem for innovative tech firms. AFP
The UAE is creating an ecosystem for innovative tech firms. AFP

This is shaping up to be an excellent year for Middle Eastern tech. One day after the launch of Hub71 last month, which will soon welcome scores of international start-ups to Abu Dhabi, Uber acquired Careem for $3.1 billion, one of the largest regional tech deals. Across the Middle East, from Morocco to Jordan, entrepreneurial spirit is being put into action. Spanning a range of industries, from banking and healthcare to transportation and trade, new enterprises are on course to have a tangible impact on the region’s young, diverse population. And the UAE is quickly becoming a leader in this field, as it embraces a post-oil future.

Yesterday, that mission took another step forwards, with the announcement that the UAE will provide long-term visas to the founders of international start-ups, beginning with 100 carefully selected Arab enterprises. These five-year visas will come with affordable licences and provisions for the families of founders, owners and executives. The UAE is determined to create an ambitious ecosystem for the emergence of new enterprises, both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It is against such a backdrop that efforts to develop new technologies, from artificial intelligence to blockchain, have emerged. Starting a business presents a host of challenges, from funding and regulation to talent acquisition. But the UAE is steadily breaking down these barriers to produce one of the world’s most innovative and open business environments.

This is not just about acquiring talent, but retaining it too. New enterprises will provide a pipeline of employment for the UAE’s universities, while business owners will keep their visas, even if their companies collapse or are bought. Start-up success is far from guaranteed, but the mindset of those who take the plunge will serve the country well. And this new initiative will help take the UAE’s homegrown tech sector – and its economy at large – to new heights.

Updated: April 7, 2019 06:01 PM

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