Careem and delivery services firm Swvl show what is possible for UAE-based startups. And more could be on the way.
The UAE, which is already a business hub for the MENA region, is on track towards being a dominant player in the global startup scene. What makes the UAE an ideal place for startups to gain a ‘unicorn’ status is a combination of factors right from conception to creating that entity.
More UAE based startups going public or reaching unicorn status – where it is valued at $1 billion or more – highlights three points: the availability of homegrown and imported talent, the resilience of the region’s startup ecosystem, and the presence of a funding pool.
The latest example is delivery services provider Swvl, which is the first Middle Eastern unicorn to list on Nasdaq in New York. This shows the vision and spirit of the region’s youth in shaping tomorrow’s businesses.
The UAE attracts talent regionally and globally; people who wish to relocate here and call the country their new home. They bring with them world-class degrees, expertise, innovation and fresh ideas. The UAE’s directive to create a pathway to citizenship for highly-skilled professionals by offering long-term visas will certainly help.
Coupled with talent, the presence of supportive regulatory bodies and government programmes aid in scaling projects and startups. The UAE has earned a reputation for its political, social and economic stability, making it one of the world’s most attractive places to do business from.
A stable macroeconomic environment, sustainable economic policies and superior growth strategies have fuelled the UAE’s outstanding performance. Global financial services companies and institutions operating in the region allow startups to easily access multiple streams of capital.
To be on the map, you need to achieve scalability, which can be reached in markets with high populations, such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt, or by extending to India and Pakistan. Of course, accessing larger markets such as China is a different ball game altogether.
Brands such as Careem, Kitopi and Yalla Group are motivating regional entrepreneurs to follow their success path and become the next unicorn.