Bruce Powers, CMT wrote:
Let me give you some insight, probably much more than you need but good to have.
Over the past few years – last couple years especially – startup accelerators have been spreading throughout the region and especially Dubai / UAE. Several of the free zone – govt backed business parks with no taxes – to attract expat businesses are backing incubators and accelerators.
I’m a mentor for one – Turn8.co, although haven’t done much yet with any of the startup teams other than reviews.
Moving towards “smart city” technology and implementation is a major initiative within the Emirate.
This goes along with stronger support and awareness of the startup tech space. However, getting money when coming out of the accelerator is as difficult here as anywhere else. Doesn’t matter that there are many potential investors. Turn8 takes teams from outside of UAE as do some other accelerators, which seems to be necessary to get enough interesting projects.
Turn8 management company has been trying to raise capital for a EM VC fund for the past year and having very difficult time, even though US partner has 3 prior successful funds – due to general discomfort in investing in funds and technology in general.
In regards to Business Planning, taxes not an issue here, but startup costs are much higher due to need to have a company license.
Only about 10-15% of population are Emirates. The rest are expats meaning they require a business license in a free zone, unless they get a local partner, who will own 51% (although control can be adjusted to favor entrepreneur). Regardless, not the preferred path for most. But, of course that depends on someone’s contacts and comfort level with various locals.
There are many Emirates make a living from supporting these types of relationships and in many cases a business must have this relationship if they operate in certain sectors, as a mall retailer for example.
Approx. 50 to maybe up to 70% of population are from India and Pakistan. Lots of GCC nationals (Middle East countries) Brits, Russians, Australians, E. Europe, Germans, Asians etc. I seem to meet more Canadians than Americans, but there are still plenty around.
The majority of the economy, I think its safe to say, is driven by govt backed private companies, and large family groups/conglomerates who franchise and license multiple successful global brands, and therefore have a monopoly in the country for those brands – similar to many emerging markets, and may have other companies for real estate development (major sector), banking, money transfer, cement, etc.
Having said all this, business plan requirements remain the same.
At the Univ. – In general, be “politically correct”. Contrary to what most Americans are fed almost no one I ever see here brings up issues of war and politics unless it relates to economics. People are focused on success, business, raising families, getting ahead etc. Its not so uptight here / traditional as some other Arab countries, by a long shot. However, there are pockets of more conservatives/traditional, which you may see, but not necessarily.
For your business presentation, there’s really not much you need to be concerned with as far as things to not do other than common things.
If a women (Middle Eastern, Pakistani, Indian – you’ll know by attire) offers to shake your hand then you can shake it, but don’t offer first. Don’t swear in public. Don’t kiss and show outright physical affection in public. Although the kiss each cheak greeting is common for expats, depending on where they’re from.
This is really not that serious as it also depends on your environment. If you’re in a nightclub or bar etc., its not different than anywhere else as everyone is from somewhere else and practicing Muslims will not be there.
Keep in mind that anyone can be kicked out of the country because they’re all here on visas, providing an underlying “control”. This keeps people behaving well in general. Crime is almost nonexistent (not 100% but not something many really worry about).
I hope this helps a little and sorry for the length.
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