x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 18 January 2018

Tech firm opens a new gate in Dubai

A small tech start-up comes up with a cracking idea. The UAE has not been a hotbed of innovation, but change is beginning to happen.

A small tech start-up comes up with a cracking idea. Its young innovators then invest their sweat and their dreams to bring this useful technology to life. In the meantime, normal habits have been put on hold; perhaps, even, relationships with family and friends are strained - you get the picture. In the process, however, something interesting emerges. And - dreams being dreams - that itsy-bitsy company in a garage is bought up by Microsoft or Cisco for millions. Deferring a social life can have payback. Despite the Cinderella-ness of it all, this is not an unfamiliar storyline in Silicon Valley. In the UAE, it's another story. But it doesn't have to be. And in fact, change is beginning to happen. A device that a Dubai-based company, Infinitec, will unveil on Monday breaks some new grounds. Its "Infinity USB Memory", which more usually goes by the thankfully more manageable acronym IUM, lets devices with a USB port connect to a wireless network. From that simple premise, some truly useful things can happen - TV, games consoles and computers can communicate with each other without tangly cables or complicated wireless set-ups. The IUM provides a simple solution that makes computer users' lives easier. In the near future, it might be that some form of this technology will become widespread. Which is not necessarily to say it will have the Infinitec logo on it. The company's co-founder Ahmad Zahran says the idea for this device was born on his couch - the sofa being an eminently suitable place to mull over what consumers need and want. But other developers, similarly vantanged, perhaps, also see the potential for wireless data streaming via USB. Meanwhile, a new wireless USB standard is under development and there is a whole generation of USB-enabled gizmos now hitting the market. This puts Infinitec in a critical position. Time is of the essence, and getting its IUM ready for market quickly could provide a key advantage. The company's base in Dubai could be - should be - a benefit in this regard. There is no shortage of incentive programmes to promote the technology sector, such as the Dubai Silicon Oasis free zone. You have to hope Infinitec gets the support it needs. Still, it is gratifying to note that start-ups like Infinitec are beginning to meet at a confluence with the nation's goal of a knowledge-based economy. Ultimately that goal will be achieved, one company at a time.