x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Entrepreneurs drawn to the Emirates as innovation hub

Study shows UAE is preferred destination for entrepreneurs in the Middle East.

ABU DHABI // The UAE exerts a strong draw on the region's entrepreneurs - with four out of five people saying they see the country as a good place to establish a business.

The Al Aan survey also found that three in four people in the region would consider investing in the country.

"It is not at all surprising that the preferred destination for entrepreneurs in the Middle East is the UAE, since entrepreneurship and the ease of doing business have always been a significant part of the UAE's fabric," said Neil Petch, chairman of Virtuzone, which helps small firms set up as free zone companies and helps newly fledged entrepreneurs network and grow their businesses.

"UAE's physical infrastructure caters to the most demanding business needs, while its 'soft' infrastructure - enabling legislation, the prevalence of English as a business language, ready mobility of both qualified and semi-skilled labour, attractive lifestyle and tax incentives - makes it the ideal location for international businesses."

Dubai topped the list of emirates where people would most want to invest or start a business, with 71.1 per cent of the votes.

This was followed by Abu Dhabi (17.9 per cent), Sharjah (6.5 per cent), Ras Al Khaimah (1.7 per cent), Fujairah (1.2 per cent) and Ajman (1.1 per cent). Umm Al Quwain received less than one per cent of the votes.

Mr Petch felt the results were not surprising.

"Today, Dubai alone is the regional headquarters to more than 25 per cent of Fortune magazine's annual list of the top 500 American companies," he said.

"If we look at Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village, Dubai Studio City, International Media Production Zone, etc, these are all examples of a vision to create gravitational centres for different sectors of the economy, that would become world-class hubs.

"There is a positive sentiment, a sense of openness, collaboration, possibility and purpose that are distinctly Dubai, but at the same time feel universal, and have been very well captured by the theme for the 2020 World Expo bid, 'Connecting Minds, Creating the Future'."

The majority (35.3 per cent) of those asked were interested in investing in IT, followed by leisure, clothing and apparel, education and property.

jbell@thenational.ae