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Abu Dhabi's Tech Hub Sees Surge Of Interest From Start-Ups

Start-ups have been encouraged to base themselves in the UAE after a handful of successes by local technology companies, as investors search for potential tech unicorns – privately held start-ups with a valuation of over $1 billion.

Despite the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic last year has seen increased interest from start-up firms in the United Arab Emirates and abroad, prompting optimism from the sector, Abu Dhabi’s new technology hub says have increased. 

Hub71, backed by Abu Dhabi State Fund Mubadala Investment Company, SoftBank Vision Fund and Microsoft (MSFT.O), accepted 100 start-up firms following a selection process that attracted nearly 3,500 applications since its inception in 2019 Hub 71 chief operating officer Zida Itani said.

Itani said, “Despite Covid and everything else, startups keep getting implemented. In fact we have seen a boom in niche areas like health tech, education tech and fintech.”

Start-ups have been encouraged to base themselves in the UAE after a handful of successes by local technology companies, as investors search for potential tech unicorns – privately held start-ups with a valuation of over $1 billion. Up – in the Middle East, she said.

Anghami, a Middle East and North Africa-focused rival to Spotify, became a target for a so-called Special Purpose Acquisition Company (SPAC) earlier this year and is set to list on the Nasdaq exchange in New York.

Middle East and Asia ride hailing app Carrom was acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, the biggest exit for the startup from the region. Amazon acquired e-commerce marketplace Souq.com in 2017 for $580 million.

Start-ups were encouraged to establish themselves in Abu Dhabi due to the support provided by Hub71, which was extended to all companies located in the hub during the pandemic.

Itani said the companies were offered free office space, housing and insurance for all their employees.

Hub71 has brought in approximately 19 venture capital funds that have a combined $2 billion to $2.5 billion in assets under management, with a pool of readily available capital that can be deployed across Hub71’s companies, he said.

Hub 71, located in the emirate’s financial district, is a key initiative of Abu Dhabi’s 50 billion dirham ($13.6 billion) Ghadan 21 stimulus program launched in 2018 to accelerate economic growth.

(Reuters)


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