Is 2018 a good time to start a business in Dubai ?


Is this a good time to start a business – is perhaps one of the most frequently questions asked by many aspiring entrepreneurs world over.

Is there a right answer when it comes to the question “Is 2018 a good time to start business in Dubai?”

The answer is yes. In other words every time is a good time. But 2018 and Dubai is a combination that perhaps is unique only for a few places in the world today.

World Expo –Dubai 2020 is right around the corner. The country and the Dubai is shifting gears and will be entering into the superfast high way of activities in the coming few months. Most of the major infrastructure contracts are being awarded and mobilization is afoot.

It is very exciting from a business point of view to note that plans are getting ready for the City beyond 2020. All this suggests a heightened activity for the next 3 to 5 years – bringing in large FDIs (foreign direct investments) to the country and the City of Dubai – generating enhanced trade, manufacturing and service industry related activities.

Any nation of city must be looked at from its historical legacy. Dubai has astounded the world by rising from an unknown dessert settlement to one of the most modern cosmopolitan cities of the world. Due to its diversified base of economic activities it has remained a City that has enjoyed sustainable economic growth over many years.

Dubai has become one of the top 5 global centers for trade, logistics, tourism and finance. It is emerging as the leading financial and trading centre at the heart of the Islamic economy with focus on Takaful and Islamic banking products.

Dubai has positioned itself as the most happening place and attracts population close to 2 billion that is within 3 hours flight from Dubai – including Central Asia, Indian sub-continent, West Asia, and Africa. Huge capital inflow is taking place from these destinations to Dubai.

Hotels rooms today are in excess of 100,000 and are projected to increase by 10 per cent every year till 2020. While the hospitality industry is likely to witness lower revenue per room the related benefits to the economy is huge. Tourism – not just holiday related (but also trade exhibitions, conferences, medical and entertainment – with the opening of two large theme parks) – will achieve tremendous growth.

Recognized as the Number One city on internet penetration and e-commerce growth in the region, more investments and job creation is expected in this area as well.

The startup initiative of Government of Dubai is yet another platform from where disruptive technologies would emerge adding impetus to the business growth.

Dubai is already witnessing targeted acquisitions in certain businesses where recently Amazon picked up Souk.Com and many more are on the way. Even smaller businesses are being bought out at tens of millions of dollars and venture capitalists are active in the market.

The banks are flush with funds and it is expected that they will start lending to small businesses soon.

The introduction of VAT makes business more transparent and therefore undercutting and underpricing will hurt those businesses which practice them bringing more stability into the market competitiveness.

The additional bonanza that comes to a business that is established in 2018 is immense. It is expected that Expo 2020 will witness an influx of over 25 million visitors from over 200 countries. The economic dividend to all businesses Dubai in particular and UAE in general will be humongous.

Beyond 2020 – the City will have developed four key  legacies. These are Economic legacy (business opportunities) , Physical legacy (the infrastructure being built), Reputational legacy (the City as the happening place for opportunities).

The ripple of influence these legacies will create for Dubai in the region and globally a unique opportunity that will help the businesses and trade here.

One must also remember that in 2021 the nation and Dubai will be celebrating its Golden Jubilee (50 years of the nation’s birth).  Ahead of this mile stone will be the commencement of the implementation of Industrial Strategy for 2030 that envisages an investment of over 45 billion US Dollars and 75 focused initiatives in this segment.

As we look ahead one should also be aware that the Goal of becoming carbon neutral and 100% dependent on sustainable energy sources for Dubai by 2050 is another area where investment and innovation will flow.

The most ambitious above all this is the BHAG (Big Hairy and Audacious Goal) of wanting to put a man on Mars by year 2117.

All this makes the  market place and the economy ready for the entrepreneur with the right business idea and a robust business plan backed with adequate capital funding (including working capital needs) to start their business in 2018.

I am a great admirer of the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. His research reinforces the facts that many successes have often link to a particular period in a nation’s history or a person’s life. I am convinced that when history of the next generation Dubai’s entrepreneurs will be studied and analyzed a decade or two later it will not be surprising to see that some of the big successes started their business in the last part of the second decade of the 21st century.

In short Dubai, the City of Gold, is a happening place and certainly 2018 is the year that will be one of the best years to venture into business in Dubai.

I wish all of those who are venturing into the business in 2018 congratulations and best wishes.

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