Dubai’s roadmap to becoming the digital economy capital of the world

DUBAI CHAMBER OF COMMERCE Published a great report, titled Dubai’s roadmap to becoming the digital economy capital of the world. An overview on how the government of Dubai is taking aim at becoming a leader in everything from blockchain to AI, crypto, Digital assets and the Metaverse.

Conclusion of the report:

“Entrepreneurs, investors and start-ups have all looked to Dubai, either as a base from which to launch their start-ups, or as a city to expand into or to re-locate entirely to, for the past decade. The allure of Dubai starts with the compelling macroeconomics and consumer base across the GCC that tell the story of tens of millions of young, wealthy and tech-savvy consumers that are all reachable for tech start-ups based in Dubai. Cast the net wider in either direction, and Dubai-based start-ups have the opportunity to reach the rest of MENA and neighboring markets such as the 100 million consumers in Egypt or 220 million consumers in Pakistan.

The myriad of other reasons why entrepreneurs are looking to Dubai include the fact that Dubai has some of the most reliable internet infrastructure and connectivity in the world, enviable world-class living that attracts expats and talents from around the world, global connectivity and its centralized location which provides working hours conducive to business dealings between Europe, Asia and Africa, and compensation incentives such as no corporate tax or income tax. Add to that the general ease of doing business and the investor-friendly policies, that attract investors and advisors to back tech companies in the Dubai ecosystem – and it’s understandable why Dubai is considered attractive to techies around the world.

The UAE, with a population of 9.9 million, is a relatively small but mighty nation on the global stage, that continually punches above its weight class. It, in many ways, is a comparable country to Israel, in that both share similarly sized populations and economies, though the UAE’s economy is larger (US$410 billion vs $394 billion in 2019), and Israel’s start-up ecosystem is much stronger (Israeli start-ups raised $25.4 billion compared to UAE start-ups raising $1.2 billion in 2021). With the UAE looking at what Israel has been able to achieve with its Tel Aviv start-up ecosystem, it’s no wonder Dubai has rolled out ambitious plans for its tech ecosystem.

In the next wave of development for Dubai’s digital economy, the city is inviting the world’s best and most advanced digital economy contributors to make Dubai their new home. To do this, the government has started by rolling out various federal and emirate level strategies and ambitious targets, along with the required infrastructure and regulatory bodies to methodically implement and execute against the strategies in question. And we are talking about more than one strategy; Dubai alone has a digital economy strategy, to strategies and roadmaps for artificial intelligence, blockchain, digital assets and the metaverse. Various Dubai government departments are working in tandem to attract the world’s top digital companies, as well as the most prominent players in the advanced technology space. The federal government has revamped the country’s work visa schemes to make it easier for investors, tech entrepreneurs, and digital nomads to try Dubai on for size. The UAE is even awarding 100,000 golden visas, which would allow recipients untethered access to work and live in Dubai for 10 years, to top coders and advanced technology experts in a bid to try and have the most coders per capita than anywhere else in the world. The country also has set a target to become home to a minimum of 20 unicorns (startups with a valuation of $1 billion or more) by 2030, to have the national digital economy contribute over 20% to its non-oil GDP by 2031.

Dubai, in the race to become the world’s next top digital economy hub, has no shortage of targets either. By 2030, Dubai anticipates remaining as the world capital in blockchain, while also becoming a top 10 metaverse economy in the world. This has translated to Dubai committing to launching or attracting 300+ new digital economy start-ups in Dubai by 2024, transferring 100+ international experts in advanced technologies and transferring the operations of 10 large multinational advanced technology company’s headquarters to Dubai by 2024. Longer term, Dubai says it will attract 1000+ blockchain and metaverse companies to Dubai and support 40,000 virtual jobs by 2030.

The institutions Dubai has launched in the past few years build a consistent story around Dubai’s commitment
to developing its tech sectors. The launch of Dubai Future Foundation in 2016 set the stage for investigating the industries Dubai would need to tap into to future-proof its city and the country’s economy; it was then followed by the establishment of the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy under the umbrella of Dubai Chambers, to support the growth of digital companies in Dubai. Then Dubai Future District Fund (DFDF) was established in 2021 to support by providing an additional injection of capital into the Dubai start-up ecosystem to fund the next generation of future economy companies.

Perhaps, what makes this most exciting is the coordinated effort and unified commitment from both the Federal and Emirate-level governments to make Dubai the next digital economy capital of the world. With this unilateral support, Dubai is more likely than ever to accomplish its vision. And as heavyweights across the blockchain, artificial intelligence, cryptocurrency and digital assets world all look to make Dubai their global headquarters, there is proof in the pudding and clear indication on the ground that this is more than just a strategy or a vision, but an actual work in progress. Stay tuned for our next special report, where we will dive into some of the private-public partnerships and start-ups that are forming the future digital economy ecosystem.”

Contact us for a copy of the report.

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