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Abu Dhabi’s startup ecosystem sees 28% rise in value in two years

The capital city remains the fastest-growing emerging tech hub within the MENA region.

Abu Dhabi’s startup ecosystem sees 28% rise in value in two years
[Source photo: Krishna Prasad/Fast Company Middle East]

A new report by Startup Genome paints a picture of rapid growth for Abu Dhabi’s tech startup ecosystem, solidifying its position as a regional leader and a magnet for ambitious entrepreneurs seeking global expansion.

The Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) found a 28% increase in the emirate’s ecosystem value between 2021 and 2023. 

This impressive jump positions Abu Dhabi within the top 61-70 startup ecosystems globally, a rise of 15 spots year-over-year.

The report’s analysis, encompassing data from over 4.5 million companies worldwide, highlights Abu Dhabi’s strong performance across various metrics, including funding, talent, knowledge, and affordability. 

Notably, the ecosystem value itself has reached $4.2 billion. Early-stage funding also surged, reaching $284 million between 2021 and 2023, while total venture capital funding climbed to $1.06 billion over the past four years (2019-2023).

Abu Dhabi remains the fastest-growing emerging tech hub in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Marc Penzel, Founder and President of Startup Genome, emphasized the emirate’s attractiveness for ambitious entrepreneurs, particularly in areas like digital assets and clean technology.

“Abu Dhabi should be on the radar of any entrepreneur with outsized global ambitions,” Penzel said, commending the presence of “fast-growing opportunities.”

The report also highlighted the role of 100% foreign ownership policies and incentives implemented by key players like ADGM, Mubadala, and ADQ in attracting foreign investment and startups.

The report acknowledges additional factors contributing to Abu Dhabi’s appeal, including its strategic location and the Golden Visa scheme, which streamlines residency for investors and entrepreneurs.

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