An increasing number of Singapore startups are expanding into Dubai as they see expansion opportunities amid a startup-friendly environment – where companies are entrepreneurial, innovative and open to new technologies, as well as partnership possibilities with both the private and public sectors.
The startups also feel that Dubai would be a good springboard to the rest of the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the Middle East market, and they feel that the Middle East business communities and governments are seeking to reorient the economy away from the oil industry.
Dubai’s fintech accelerator programme FinTech Hive has also attracted interest from startups in Singapore. In 2018, there were more than 300 applications from over 45 countries, with 4% coming from Singapore.
According to Arif Amiri, the Chief Executive of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority, one of the startups from Singapore has raised US$12.2 million since graduating from the programme. The startup has since opened an office in DIFC as part of its international expansion. He added that in 2018, FinTech Hive signed more than 10 landmark agreements with leading fintech institutions across major markets in the world, including Singapore, New York, Brussels and Kuala Lumpur.
While it is not yet in the ranks of Silicon Valley, London or Beijing, Dubai was ranked second after Jakarta in a 2017 report by CB Insights that analysed emerging starup hubs. The report analysed global venture capital (VC) data to identify promising startup markets from more 50 countries that collectively take 5% of global VC deals and found that VC investment into Dubai jumped significantly from US$20 million in 2012 to US$411 million in 2016.