Innovative, entrepreneurial powerhouse shaping up in Dubai

By Krishna Kumar


SOURCE: The Arab Weekly - Innovative, entrepreneurial powerhouse shaping up in Dubai

NOMAD will focus on growing and funding projects predominantly in the media, arts and design, gaming and technology and culinary arts sectors.

DUBAI - Off Al Ain road in Dubai, an innovative entrepreneurial hub encompassing 93,000 sq. metres designed to incubate and accelerate start-ups and individuals is taking shape.

The hub, called NOMAD, is expected to be attractive to citizens from Gulf Cooperation Council countries for whom the prospect of setting up and developing a business has traditionally been prohibitive due to costs and bureaucracy.

In addition to flexible work space, the development will include state-of-the-art studios in the media, culinary arts, arts and design and gaming and technology areas, along with one of the largest 3D printing facilities. There are also living accommodations, allowing members to live on site.

“We recognised that, to enhance the economic landscape in the region, we need to truly grow local talent and attract global sources of innovation,” said Mohammed Khammas, CEO of Al Ahli Holding Group (AAHG), which is developing the site.

“We also need to develop a competitive ecosystem that focuses on capacity building and providing comprehensive resources for start-ups and the creative community to collaborate.”

NOMAD aims to address the need to advance innovative ideas as envisaged in UAE’s Vision 2021. “The response (to the project) has been extremely positive from both the government and the entrepreneurial business community,” Khammas said.

Authorities, he said, recognised how NOMAD could further key endeavours of Vision 2021. “By encouraging and nurturing entrepreneurship in such a dynamic way, NOMAD will make a major contribution to the UAE’s economic growth plans and its aim to be positioned right at the heart of global economic changes,” he said.

Khammas said the group consulted the entrepreneurial community in the early formation stages. “They have appreciated how it takes the traditional accelerator model into a new and exciting dimension and they are very keen to be a part of its fabric and its ultimate success, which will be recognised on a global scale,” he said.

He explained that NOMAD would focus on growing and funding projects predominantly in the media, arts and design, gaming and technology and culinary arts sectors.

“It will enable [small and medium-sized enterprises] SMEs and talented start-ups from the UAE and abroad to develop and nurture their businesses supported by a business and legal framework as well as a superb array of world-class facilities,” he said.

“Members will see their businesses boosted by access to mentorship, investors, global accelerator programmes and Al Ahli Holding Group’s extensive network of partners and consultants, many of whom are in the entertainment and media industries.”

Apart from its scale, another key differentiator at NOMAD will be the subsidised living arrangements it will offer, enabling its community to live economically while focusing on business growth.

AAHG plans to complete the two phases at NOMAD over a 2-year period. The first phase is expected to be completed by end of this year and include the hub of working and studio resources, along with a pilot housing community.

The second phase, accommodating larger facilities and community development, is due for completion by end of 2019.

“The uniqueness of NOMAD’s specific requirements forced us to create a new architectural division with more than 50 engineers to tackle the diverse needs of the modern SME sector,” Khammas said. “The design will encompass a comprehensive development with co-working spaces, creative studios, makerspaces, event venues and a co-living community.”

An attractive feature of the project is that operating costs will be “significantly reduced.”

Khammas said creating competitive pricing solutions for start-ups is important because “we recognise that so often it [is] financial constraints that prevent a great idea from becoming a first-rate business and it is important to reduce these barriers of entry to attract global talent.”

He added: “The cost of business accommodation and production space is a major concern for start-ups and NOMAD will provide access to state-of-the-art co-working and private office spaces as well as high-tech facilities such as food laboratories and technically advanced studios and media production facilities.”

In addition, with the provision of heavily subsidised on-site housing, members at NOMAD have access to investors and industries to scale their business growth.

“They will also be encouraged to call on and use Al Ahli Holding Group’s comprehensive network of associates and experts, who will assist with whatever is needed, be it an introduction to a new supplier or key contact, a personal development opportunity or a collaborative marketing exercise.  This is where NOMAD really sets itself apart from any other accelerator project, with its customised approach to business development needs and the vast depth and scale of its network,” added Khammas.