Dubai in the Spotlight as Startup Hub of the Middle East

April 7, 2019

Dubai is gaining renown as an up-and-coming startup hub. In 2017, the city was ranked second in a report released by CB Insights that analyzed emerging startup hubs worldwide. For the last few years, venture capital investments in Dubai saw a rapid increase from US$20 million in 2012 to US$411 million in 2016.

Middle East Venture Partners, one of the region’s largest VC firms, reported that six key tech verticals with attractive growth potential in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) include new media, e-commerce and marketplaces, fintech, healthtech, edutech, and travel.

Meanwhile, Asian companies are eyeing opportunities in the emirate, such as Singaporean blockchain startup aelf. Co-founder Zhuling Chen said the Middle East is now in the spotlight, thanks to its growing influence in the global blockchain ecosystem.

FinTech Hive, a fintech accelerator program in Dubai, has also gained interest from international startups. In 2018, over 300 applications from 45 countries applied for the program.

In the government sector, the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) last August signed a fintech accord with the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS), with the aim of encouraging collaboration and sharing information on innovation in the financial sector.

The Dubai and Singaporean agencies also agreed to support joint projects on the application of technologies, from blockchain and distributed ledgers to digital and mobile payments, as well as big data and application programming interfaces.

With increased movements and developments in the startup industry, Dubai is set to continue its strong growth driven by innovation and partnerships and is on its way become another key destination for international startups looking to enter Middle Eastern countries.


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