With a number of key indicators pointing to strong growth in startups and other new digital businesses in the UAE, the region’s hub for digital investment and innovation is to again host the region’s key digital event, the ArabNet Digital Summit. “The digital opportunity in the GCC is undoubtedly here and that’s precisely the opportunity we’ll be exploring at the ArabNet Digital Summit in Dubai,” says Omar Christidis, CEO and founder of ArabNet. The Summit is set to convene more than 1,000 executives, investors, entrepreneurs, and media from the four corners of the world, on June 3-5 at Atlantis the Palm, Dubai. More than 130 international and regional speakers will gather to discuss the latest digital opportunities shaping the Arab digital industry.
“The UAE has built the backbone for a sustainable entrepreneurship ecosystem with its world class infrastructure,” says Christidis. Indeed, the UAE has proven itself to be the region’s most competitive environment for businesses. It rose five places in the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report 2013 to 19th place, and was listed as the 22nd easiest place in the world and first in the Arab region for starting investment projects, according to the World Bank’s Ease of Starting Business Index 2013.
The UAE, located strategically between the world’s rapidly growing markets, is the center for business development in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region. With its business-friendly, pro-investment approach and macroeconomics stability, the UAE has been able to progress dramatically over the last three decades and transform itself into the Gulf’s leading multi-purpose business center and regional hub. “The Emirates has positioned itself as the Middle East’s business hub by creating the bridges for global investors to connect with regional markets. It is where investors will come to do business and where entrepreneurs will begin to scale their startups,” Christidis adds.In particular, Dubai and Abu Dhabi were found to be the best cities to invest in, leaping over other cities like New York, Zurich, and Geneva, according to the Reputation Institute. As of 2013, the value of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows to UAE grew by 25 percent to reach a whopping $9.6 billion. Together with Saudi Arabia, the UAE FDI inflows accounted for 83 percent of the total FDI inflows to the GCC region.
One particular industry demonstrating significant growth in the UAE is the ICT and technology industry, with expenditures in these sectors forecasted to grow to a staggering $15 billion in 2014, up by 5 percent that last year. 2013 also saw significant developments within the industry with more than 180 new companies registering in Dubai Internet City (DIC) and Dubai Outsource Zone (DOZ) over the past year, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum announcing that Dubai would be developed into a Smart City to further drive the digital industry in the country.
One of the highlights of the Summit is the Digital Showcase, which exposes more than 70 fast-growing digital SMEs to global and regional influential investors who will help them take their business to the next stage of development.