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CNN International Explores How Dubai Is Attracting New Talent And Businesses
(6 September 2017)

 

Dubai, considered by some to be the ultimate modern city, is reinventing itself again. CNN International’s latest episode of Global Gateway looks at Dubai’s advantageous geographic location, its start-up ecosystem, and explores how it is attracting more talents, more people and more migrants.           

In a city of over 2 million people there are more migrants as a proportion of Dubai’s population than anywhere else on the planet and 200 nationalities call this emirate home. Regal Group, which was founded in 1952 when one of the first waves of economic migrants came to Dubai, has diversified from purely textiles to satellite TV, security systems and real estate.   Raju Shroff, Managing Director, Regal Group comments on how the country has changed: “If you look at Dubai’s evolvement… from a trading hub to a technical hub we're also adapting ourselves to new challenges, what are the new demands that the markets are looking at, and we are evolving as the city is, evolving together.”

Raju Shroff, discusses the economic shift and the requirement of new skills, saying: “If you look at what kind of talent Dubai is attracting, you had the Indian labour coming in because they had to build the bridges, the roads, the infrastructure, today they want to build companies. And who are the people they're attracting; the qualified chartered accountants, qualified doctors, qualified lawyers, the service industry people and that is what people see Dubai as; a great base to flourish and grow.”

Improvements are being made to daily life, with air quality being addressed, the appointment of a minister of happiness and the launch of the world's longest automated rail network in 2009.  Rob Thissen, Consultant, Mercer, tells CNN: “They're chucking in a lot of money into improving the city in a very rapid pace. Where other cities develop more gradually, Dubai is one of the most proactive, from that perspective, in the world. You want to attract people to come here. If you don't have a good quality of living the people will typically not come.”

The enhancements made so far in Dubai and the high standard of living helps to entice workers. Facebook’s regional headquarters opened five years ago, and with over 259 million users in the Middle East and Africa, Facebook is utilising one of Dubai's competitive advantages; its location. Ari Kesisoglu, Regional Director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, Facebook explains: “Such a central geography, that it is the crossroads of Europe, of Africa, of Asia, that is extremely significant. And that is actually part of the strategy of Dubai.”

Global Gateway hears about the benefits of the big tech companies based in the city and how this impacts local business. Last year the government of Dubai launched its 3D printing initiative. This attracted Sudanese-American Mohamed el Awad. Originally an engineer, he set up his 3D printing company Medativ, in Dubai.  He created a breakthrough in medical science by devising a 3D printed life-size organ.

Mohamed el Awad reveals why he was attracted to establishing his business in Dubai: “In the past decade, you’ve seen heavy investment in the healthcare sector, especially within the private sector, so it's made it attractive to companies such as my own and others to come here and invest their time and find real opportunities here.”

The programme looks at another way Dubai has sought to attract the world's best innovators, through specialised economic freezones which are intended to create a place for ideas to flourish and new businesses to form.

Nasser Saidi, Founder, Nasser Saidi & Associates explains the benefits of the freezones: “You can establish yourself in a free zone. You can own property. You can own your company 100%. You can have your own management. Your own people. As a result, that has attracted foreign direct investment.”

Silicon Oasis - the Silicon Valley of Dubai - where a lot of the tech companies are based, is one of these freezones. Originally based in Greece, Alexander Papantoniou moved his 3D printing company, D2M Solutions, to the Silicon Oasis in 2011. He was attracted by the infrastructure offered to small businesses and he remarks: “The ability to set up a company fast and relatively cheaply is quite good. The only question mark that remains is how easy is it to source the trade professionals that you require for your business?”

CNN also hears from Hazem Galal, Partner, PWC who discusses the advantages and opportunities in Dubai: “It is becoming easier for people to innovate and set up businesses here… Dubai is also trying to make the shift from importing and consuming innovation to producing innovation. You look at Silicon Oasis, for example, that is an attempt to create homegrown innovation.  We look forward to seeing disruptive innovation come out of Dubai”

Global Gateway’s latest episode and more can be watched anytime online on CNN International

 

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