Is now a good time to be an entrepreneur in the UAE?
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Is now a good time to be an entrepreneur in the UAE?

Is now a good time to be an entrepreneur in the UAE?

Innovation and entrepreneurship play a key role in responding to the significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis, says UOWD associate professor

Gulf Business
Osama Al Fares UOWD

It is an established fact that small and medium enterprises form the backbone of the UAE’s economy: the SME sector represents more than 98 per cent of the total number of companies operating in the country and contributes 52 per cent to its non-oil GDP, according to the Ministry of Economy. In Dubai alone, SMEs represent 99.2 per cent of the number of establishments, accounting for 51 per cent of the workforce, a 2019 report by Dubai SME stated.

Looking ahead, the country is targeting the GDP contribution of SMEs to rise to 60 per cent by 2021. To achieve that and further drive entrepreneurship in the country, the UAE has launched several new initiatives – from appointing a minister for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, to establishing incubators and accelerators to support startups. The importance of innovation and entrepreneurship are also being reinforced through educational institutions.

“Universities in Dubai are being transformed into economic and creative free zones to promote innovation and entrepreneurship, in line with the 50-year charter of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum,” Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME was cited as saying by official news agency WAM in July.

In line with the UAE’s push towards boosting startups, the University of Wollongong in Dubai (UOWD) has launched a Master of Business (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) course, tailored to support budding business leaders.

“The programme is designed for those who will start, grow or drive new ventures whether in a startup or inside a corporation,” explains Osama Al-Hares, associate professor at UOWD.

“It provides all the special skills, strategies and strengths needed to turn an idea into a viable and thriving business. It is designed for managers or those aspiring to pursue a career in innovation-related roles especially in government, private sector and non-profit organisations; entrepreneurs looking to commercialise an innovative product or service idea or to scale up to the next stage of success; and corporate innovators and intrapreneurs working in new venture or innovation roles within an enterprise. The programme will also enable employees in organisations to foster a culture of innovation and creativity.”

The ‘learn by doing’ programme concentrates on enabling theory-based practice through industry collaborations/partnerships and students will be guided by key entrepreneurs, incubators and accelerators as mentors outside the class. On average, the course is completed over 1.5 years. It does not require any prior work experience.

“A majority of our former students are working in a leading role at established companies or managing their own businesses and startups, involved in business development and entrepreneurship,” says Al-Hares.

He also stresses that the programme is geared towards helping professionals and entrepreneurs deal with situations such as the current Covid-19 crisis.

“Innovation and entrepreneurship play a key role in responding to the significant challenges posed by the Covid-19 crisis. The world we live in is changing dramatically with significant changes to our society, how we look at opportunities and how we respond to challenges. Covid-19 is expected to cause massive economic disruption; jobs are quickly disappearing, some temporarily, others permanently. Many jobs require changing skill sets.

“Hence, I believe that the pandemic could bring exciting opportunities for entrepreneurs. Innovative ideas and entrepreneurial thinking are exceptionally important in times of great challenges,” he adds.

To learn more about the Master of Business (Innovation and Entrepreneurship) programme, the course structure and the costs, click here




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