Unlocking UAE: 4 Key Questions about our Market Exploration Program UAE


Meeting our startup’s needs is at the heart of our work. When our scouting team noticed that 1 out of 10 startups asked about opportunities in Dubai, they sprang into action and created a pilot program. In February 2024, we took 4 startup founders (3 onsite and one online) for ten days to the most populous city in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Global Scaling Advisor Divotsna answers 4 Key questions on this first UAE Market Exploration Program. 

Why Dubai?

Dubai’s rapidly growing economy and startup ecosystem, buoyed by local government initiatives and a dedicated focus on fostering startups and scaleups, make it an ideal hotspot for founders. Part of that is owed to Free Zones, which offer startup founders benefits like 100% foreign ownership, access to modern infrastructure, freedom to test new technologies in sandbox setups, and much more. Also, Dubai Agenda D33 aims to double the economy in the coming 10 years, and to do so, one of their key focuses is on attracting and supporting local and foreign scaling startups. It’s a perfect right time, right place scenario; hence, for startups who are looking for growth and fast scaling opportunities, UAE is the place to be.

How do you start a new program?

Our startups initiated this opportunity. During our discussions, we discovered a surge of interest from startups wanting to explore the UAE market, especially Dubai. Leveraging our expertise, we navigated the local ecosystem, identified key players, and established connections, ensuring our role as a valuable partner. As a result, we designed the pilot Market Exploration Program for the UAE. We selected four startups—Sensit, Omnizon Networks, Divizend, and Goodbytz—to join the pilot program, sharing our knowledge to set them up for success from the start.

How was the pilot?

The pilot program received fantastic feedback from our startups, who felt well-supported throughout the process. They gained a deep understanding of the region concerning their products, identified opportunities, and established valuable business relationships with promising partners on the ground. Given Dubai’s fast-paced environment, they even achieved initial traction during the program. Additionally, the startups successfully built an effective and close-knit network.

The program included deep dives into the market and business opportunities, multiple workshops to cover the basics, and 1:1 mentoring from local industry experts. This was complemented by strategic consultations with key partners such as Dubai Chambers, DTEC, and more.

And, of course, we also had a lot of fun. One of my favorite moments was our desert adventure. We took our startup team out for a desert safari on quad bikes, followed by a traditional dinner on a Sunday evening. During the ride, one of our founders decided to take an alternate route and got lost! To make matters interesting, he turned off his quad bike to enjoy the silence but couldn’t restart it. Fortunately, thanks to the strong internet connection, we were able to get in touch with him and guide him back safely.

What happens next?

We’re currently in the planning and execution phase for the next cohort, refining the details to ensure an even more impactful experience.

Recognizing the immense potential for collaboration in the region, we’ve identified a clear demand for a robust scale-up program that can facilitate startup growth. Our pilot program served as a crucial foundation, fostering future collaborations and providing insights into market nuances.

Our goal now is to build upon this foundation and establish a robust landing pad for European startups seeking entry into the UAE market. Furthermore, our partners on the ground in the UAE, particularly Dubai Silicon Oasis, were highly impressed with our startups. They eagerly anticipate the arrival of the next wave of startups, ready to embark on their journey in the region.

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