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This is the second instalment of our Global Tech Hub series. Each instalment looks at one of the world’s most vibrant tech eco-systems. This week we take a look at Silicon Oasis.

From robot policemen to pilotless flying taxis, Dubai certainly has the wow factor when it comes to technology, but what about the business eco-system behind the flashy exterior?

Entrepreneurs from all over the world have flocked to Dubai, particularly during the pandemic. So why is Silicon Oasis the new land of opportunity?

Dubai is one of the five fastest growing Metropolitan areas in the world and around 80% of the UAE’s population are expats. It’s seen as the gateway to emerging markets, sitting geographically between Africa and Asia. Alongside low taxation this makes Dubai an attractive destination for start-ups looking to scale. The country has made bold steps to diversify its economy. Historically oil based, the UAE moved towards the “three T’s” – transport, trade and tourism.

Above all, the state has its eyes on becoming the world’s most advanced tech hub. Angel investors and venture capitalists in the region are also shifting their focus away from traditional investment such as real estate, and towards tech start-ups. The cultural shift is also demonstrated by a number of state-backed tech initiatives. The most prominent of these is perhaps the launch of a government-endorsed blockchain platform, powered by IBM. Amongst other applications, the platform will digitize government services with a vision to create a paperless government.

It’s hardly a surprise that global corporates such as Google, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Cisco, HP and Oracle have all set up tech hubs in the region. There are a considerable number of incubator spaces and accelerator spaces such as Intelak, a joint venture between Emirates, Microsoft, Accenture and Dubai Tourism to promote innovation in travel, tourism and aviation.

“It is establishing itself as the destination of choice for tech start’ups seeking to access emerging markets. With over 2 billion people living within a four-hour flight radius and the right infrastructure to support a thriving start-up ecosystem, Dubai is a compelling location to consider for founders from around the world.” - Muhammed Mekki , founding partner of Astrolabs, a tech hub that hosts entrepreneurs from over 40 countries.

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