An insight into Dubai’s thriving tech scene and the significance of tech conferences like STEP conference in promoting entrepreneurship and innovation
MENA region, and in particular, Dubai, has a thriving tech scene. Otherwise known as the ‘City of Gold’, Dubai attracted $21.66 billion (Dh80 billion) worth of foreign direct investment (FDI) in high-end technology transfers in three years, mainly originating from the European Union (EU) and the USA.
860 projects created more than 54,000 jobs in the technology sector from January 2015 to March 2018 period, according to Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED).
Promoting entrepreneurship and innovation is a priority not just in Dubai but the Arabian Gulf as a whole, such as with long-term national strategy transformations such as Saudi Vision 2030 and UAE Centennial 2071.
With Dubai, not only being a leader in various sectors like transport and logistics, tech is a priority and the city aims to transform the world with its own innovation and technology. From being a regional hub for multinational entities and offices to growth in accelerator programs and world-class events, statistics show Dubai truly leading in tech.
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For instance, with funding, according to MAGNiTT, a platform that tracks and reports developments in the MENA entrepreneurship space, in 2017 MENA startups raised $560 million in funding across 260 deals, a 65 per cent increase from 2016. In MENA, UAE startups dominated, capturing 70 per cent of all investment capital.
Dubai (and the UAE as a whole) is fostering local talent and also making it easier for foreign investors to do business in the country. With recent changes in visas and FDI, the UAE can be a leader and make it an even easier place to not only do business but to create one – both for locals and expats.
In addition, Dubai is on a quest to lead the world in new technology – such as with artificial intelligence and blockchain. As these technologies are cross-sectoral (as what is tech in general – from agritech to fintech to edtech and medtech), these are showcased such as in Arab Health recently – one of the world’s largest trade shows in the medical profession.
Dubai hosts leading events that are showcasing MENA (and the world) its know-how and increasing entrepreneurship and innovation. One of those events is the STEP Conference.
According to STEP Conference’s press release, STEP Conference 2019, the biggest experiential technology festival in the Middle East, is back for its seventh year in a row. On February 13th and 14th, conference goers will get to experience interactive workshops, network and hear the biggest names of the tech industry speak all on the grounds of Dubai Internet City.
STEP has always brought some of the most influential tech leaders and brands to Dubai for two days of knowledge sharing and unmatched content. This year, programming will take place across a multitude of stages, STEP Start, STEP Digital, STEP X, & STEP Money, hosting some of the world’s most sought-after technologists, investors, entrepreneurs and creatives.
According to Ray Dargham, CEO of STEP Group, “STEP Conference has hosted over 1,000 startups since its inception. Many of those startups went on to build scale, outstanding products, and raise large sums of investment. We’ve witnessed and played a big role in the creation of an entire ecosystem in a very turbulent region. This ecosystem has created hope, ambition, and jobs across the entire Middle East. I’m really grateful to our great community and all the love they’ve given us over the years – as well as the significant support from our partners who we couldn’t have done this without.”
More than 250 startups are expected to attend STEP 2019 to showcase their grassroots business ideas to some of the world’s top investors as part of Startup Basecamp. For those still refining their ideas the STEP Start program aims to educate and empower the next generation of entrepreneurs from the MENA region and give them a chance to participate in STEP’s flagship pitch competition.