From the Bottom Up UAE

Start-up Ecosystem

Curriculum reforms have introduced new subjects such as technology, innovative design, health sciences, career guidance, and business management, which are designed to bring about a new generation of critical thinkers and innovators.

When students in the UAE returned to their classrooms for the academic year 2016-2017, they were faced with a newly reformed curricula approved by the Ministry of Education that involved a compulsory course on innovation and entrepreneurship. A staple in the National Innovation Strategy and the nation’s 2021 Plan, the implementation of a creativity-based curricula at earlier stages in the education system is one of the newest initiatives from the UAE’s leadership to foster entrepreneurship among its youth. It is no surprise that turning the UAE into a haven of innovation and entrepreneurship is one of the national targets for the road ahead. The country ranks 19th on the Global Entrepreneurship and Development Index, 17th on the Global Competitiveness Report, and leads the way in easiness to set up businesses in the GCC. Moreover, the UAE has built a solid basis of institutions backing up the ideals of a growing number of young entrepreneurs through financing, mentorship, and capacity building. For example, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, Dubai SME, the Emirates Foundation for Youth Development, and Impact Hub are just a handful of names pumping blood into start-ups throughout the Emirates. The country’s large investments in technology and e-commerce, as well the leadership’s goal to turn their institutions into full e-government bodies, have created one of the most innovation-friendly places in the world today. But most importantly, the equation for a successful ecosystem is now receiving impetus at the early stages through the promotion of entrepreneurial activities from the school years. By the time the National Innovation Strategy and the nation’s 2021 Plan was launched, entities such as Stanford University and Google had been dragged into the UAE’s innovative approach toward cultivating young talent.

Innovation is the roadmap the UAE has embraced for its future development. The core values stated in UAE 2021 Plan and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 stipulate that entrepreneurship is key to bring the younger spheres of the population on board to the economic future of the nation. With the start-up ecosystem continuously flourishing, it is safe to state this will become a reality.