Abu Dhabi startups cheer royal support

SOURCE: Khaleej Times


The UAE has the lion's share of startup deals in Mena with over 60 per cent share.

Even as the world braces everyday to face outbreak of coronavirus globally and in the region, the UAE government has stood like a solid rock for its citizen, community and businesses. The startups and small and medium enterprises cheered up on Monday morning when a tweet from His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, assured the support to the startup community.

"I've given directives to continue with all approved capital expenditure and development projects in the emirate, and to take further measures to preserve Abu Dhabi's economic gains, prioritising startups and SMEs," according to a tweet from Sheikh Mohamed's handle.

Abu Dhabi startup, Addenda from Hub71 welcomed the royal assurance and Walid Daniel Dib, co-founder of Addenda, said the economic turbulence caused by the coronavirus has tested UAE startups' resilience, patience, and capabilities.

"While startups already operate in the realm of high risk, being projected to new heights of extreme risk can shake even the most steadfast company. It brings great comfort to someone like me when I see immediate directives such as the one proposed by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed come to fruition in these tough times. This brings a whole new meaning to "When the going gets tough, the tough get going."

"This effort should be lauded, as it gives confidence to the market by not to retreat but to keep up the momentum in investing in the future. This is best time to kick off a startup that can disrupt industries and overtake the slow and outdated enterprises, by providing, cost effcient and innovative solutions in tough conditions," said Vijay Tirathrai, managing director, Techstars.

Startups from online healthcare, home delivery, e-commerce, streaming will remain high in demand, Walid Hanna, founder and CEO, Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), said: "We have now a local presence at Hub71 in Abu Dhabi and that will help us staying close to the ecosystem there which is developing fast."

Lamsa, Mena's EdTech brand and platform for children - with more than 17 million downloads, of those, 100s of thousands are in the UAE - hailed the decision.

"We are fortunate to be a startups based in Abu Dhabi, with a government that is supportive of not just our growth but also our participation in this ecosystem," Badr Ward, founder and CEO, Lamsa, said.

"Being one of the largest startups in Abu Dhabi's innovation ecosystem, we had no doubt that the government of Abu Dhabi will support its startups in such difficult times. However, seeing the highest level of Abu Dhabi's leadership giving priority to startups and SMEs not only gives us confidence to continue with our journey of educating the young minds of the UAE and Mena, but also gives us great pride in being a UAE homegrown company. This also solidifies the importance of startups and their growth as a key factor in fueling the UAE's economy," Ward said.

Echoing similar sentiment, Nameer Khan, chairman, Mena Fintech Association, who closely works with regional regulators, said this is an important statement at the right time. "Startups and SME's will be the driver of economic growth in the Emirates for the foreseeable future. The UAE has the lion's share of startup deals in Mena with over 60 per cent share. FinTechs account for 14 per cent of those," he said.

"Smart regulations, policies and strategic investments have created great dynamism and this statement gives confidence to all stakeholders that the momentum is here to stay," he added.

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Source: khaleejtimes.com