Crown Prince of Dubai launches Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market for SMEs

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, has announced the launch of the Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market, to support SMEs achieve the next phase of their expansion, by raising capital through an initial public offering (IPO). The initiative will allow fast-growing companies to achieve a streamlined and cost-effective listing on the region’s international exchange.

H.H. Sheikh Hamdan is eager for Dubai to launch such initiatives in order to allow for growth across several sectors and create a supportive, collaborative environment for businesses to prosper. The initiative will fall under the Dubai Future District (launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum) as the largest specialised area in the region for creating the future economy by providing an investment, technical, legislative, service and incentive environment. The district links Emirates Towers with the Dubai World Trade Centre and the DIFC.

The Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market aims to add further momentum to Dubai and the UAE’s established role as the Middle East’s hub for business and finance and will serve as an incubator for innovative projects. It will welcome not only companies in the UAE, but also list companies from around the world to help them expand in the region and internationally. H.H. Sheikh Hamdan commented, “SMEs are a key engine of our national economy. The launch of the Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market is a strategic step that will support this vital sector by opening new horizons for its companies and providing them with investment resources to expand their business and enhance their attractiveness in global markets."

Essa Kazim, Governor of DIFC and Chairman of DFM, said, “The launch of the Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market will be a milestone for the capital markets of Dubai and the region, by helping to expand the business activity and visibility of companies that choose to list on it wherever in the world they are based. The Growth Market is set to play a key role in the future of capital-raising and the channeling of investment to enterprising companies to enable them to succeed during all phases of the business cycle supported by their Dubai listing."

Khalfan Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Future Foundation, added, “The Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market will contribute to enhancing creativity and innovative thinking and support entrepreneurs and emerging companies by providing the financing needed for innovative projects, to accelerate their growth and create new markets for their services and products. The launch of this market constitutes a new step that strengthens Dubai’s leadership in supporting the innovation and entrepreneurship system and strengthens its position as one of the leading cities in the world in preparation for the future.”

While Nasdaq Dubai’s main market requires a minimum operation of three years, the Nasdaq Dubai Growth Market only requires one, and if businesses are valued below $250M, the initiative will allow them to be listed. Additionally, similar to Nasdaq Dubai’s main equity market, the Growth Market will allow owners of an enterprise to carry out their IPO while selling as little as 25% of the shares in their company, allowing them to keep control.

The initiative will launch early next year in line with the first IPOs, and companies that are not ready for an IPO will, however, be able to join the Private Market segment of the Growth Market. 

2020 YTD has seen $803M invested in MENA-based startups, matching total funding of full-year 2019. Discover more trends and insights in our Q3 2020 MENA Venture Investment Report.