The United Arab Emirates has long been established as a reliable market in the Middle Eastern region. With its stable political environment and a taxation regime that favours investment groups, combined with recent progressive measures taken by the government to revitalize the country’s economy proactively, Abu Dhabi continues to show that it is surprisingly resilient to external shocks.
In May 2021, Abu Dhabi’s main stock index rose to a record, despite heightened tensions in the region, as the benchmark’s most prominent member saw a boost based on hopes of foreign inflows. Even amid the rising atmosphere of conflict and hostility in the Middle East, the country seems to be offsetting the geopolitical risk for the time being.
The increased emphasis on technological solutions and a proactive engagement of the government with the startup ecosystems in the country seems to be a fundamental cause of market resilience. Despite being a fresh face in technology and digital revolution markets, the evidence suggests that the United Arab Emirates is pursuing a strategy of constructive collaboration between the government and the private sector to come up with a vibrant technology sector in the country.
At the international level, the technology industry is booming. Advancements in artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, etc., have been consistently revolutionizing many sectors of the global economy. The industry is moving at a break-neck speed, and much of what a first-year graduate student learns becomes almost redundant by the time he graduates.
UAE’s tech market, currently valued at around $5.5 billion, is persistently recognized as one of the fastest-growing markets in the region and has attracted investment firms from across the world. As a nation heavily dependent on an expatriate workforce, the UAE has significantly capitalized on the skill sets and knowledge base that the expatriates bring to the country. By policies like the Golden Visa and citizenship for specific categories of foreign nationals, the UAE has exemplified itself as an economy that values those willing to contribute to nation-building. This has immensely benefited the thriving startup ecosystem in the region.
The United Arab Emirates has been steadfast in adopting recent advancements to facilitate faster growth of the economy. For example, sensors and augmented feedback systems associated with the Internet-of-Things technology have been used in cargo, wastewater management, airports, etc. UAE has proven itself capable of adopting new technologies more swiftly than its neighbours in the region. The government’s push for smart cities that began with the Masdar City of 2006 is another testament to the potential for the UAE as a country that favours tech and startups.
There is an evident policy shift in the Gulf region towards a knowledge-based economy. Abu Dhabi’s Economic Vision 2030 is designed to shift the base of its economy from traditional natural resources to knowledge, innovation, and the export of cutting-edge technologies. These reformative measures will greatly add to the country’s appeal as a thriving centre for international business, increase investment opportunities and enable the country’s transformation into a robust, resilient, and reliable economy in the post-pandemic years.