STEP affirms UAE is regional hub for entrepreneurship

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Aden - Yasmine El Tohamy - The UAE has become the home for startups to set up their businesses.

The STEP Conference launched its 9th edition under the theme of 'The World in ' on Tuesday in partnership with Dubai Internet City (DIC) and the Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing (Dubai Tourism). STEP 2020 is expecting to attract over 8,000 international attendees, 300 showcasing startups, and influential tech leaders and speakers discussing the latest topics and trends across key industries.

Ammar Al Malik, managing director of Dubai Internet City said: "Supporting the entrepreneurship ecosystem is key to our mission in driving talent, innovation and economic growth in the region. Through our continued partnership with STEP, we are confident that together we can provide the right platform for knowledge sharing and expertise exchange, creating the ideal environment for creativity and growth. As a comprehensive tech community, we aim to bring state-of-the-art initiatives and strategies to build the next generation of start-ups. As our ecosystem develops, we look forward to seeing more local success stories coming out of our communities and graduating with global recognition."

Step's first day witnessed Wamda launching State of Pre-Seed Startups in Mena Report in collaboration with STEP Conference 2020. The report features findings based on data from 627 startup founders who applied to the Wamda X fellowship programme and includes research supplemented by STEP.

The UAE has proved that it is the right place to go to when it comes to starting your business. This confidence stems from the fact that the government entities in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai are providing incentives to get this wave of growth scale new heights in the startup ecosystem. Walid Daniel Dib co-founder of Addenda, who participated in STEP conference first time, said: "It is indeed nice to see so many startups participating in this technology fair. What remains to be answered is next year same time if we will see these same startups, that will prove how much we have achieved in terms of funding and implementation of ideas."

The UAE remains the regional hub for entrepreneurship with 35.5 per cent of the startups surveyed based in the country, followed by Egypt with 26.5 per cent in sectors ranging from e-commerce, fintech, healthcare and marketplaces among others. Only 32 per cent of startups are currently registered of which 60 per cent are registered in either Egypt or the UAE.

Ray Dargham, CEO of STEP said: "We are delighted to be launching this report issued by Wamda at STEP Conference. For the first time in the ecosystem, we look closer at the initial state when a startup is founded. The findings generated from the report are a testimony of the great achievements the region has been undergoing in graduating business ideas and creative companies. It also shows that the UAE has become the home for startups to set up their businesses. This falls in line with the UAE's vision to become the preferred destination for global talents and entrepreneurs, through many initiatives and projects aimed at turning Dubai into a nexus for business and an integrated investment environment that offers exceptional facilities while making it a regional startup hub for startups like Dubai Internet City and the new Dubai Future District to drive the economy from here, attracting top business ideas with unique quality and finally exporting talent from the region globally.

Alvaro Abella, director at Gulf Capital, said: "Originally Step Conference focused on start-ups, and now it has evolved to look at trends across the region and beyond. The UAE's startup ecosystem has progressed through a very healthy diversification on geographic basis, with more companies coming out of KSA, Tunisia, Morocco in addition to the UAE and Egypt as in the past. It also is currently focusing on a variety of challenges with startups looking at offering solutions for enterprises and not just being consumer-focused."

Similarly, Khaled Talhouni, Managing partner at Nuwa Capital, said: "STEP has evolved as the ecosystem evolved. Starting years ago as a low key community event with a lot of promise, it's become a hallmark of the maturing regional ecosystem, bringing all stakeholders together every year There's an incredible growth in the regional ecosystem. It is maturing extremely quickly and the region as a whole is coming into its own at an accelerated pace." - [email protected]

Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Al Khaleej Today, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.

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