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Dubai scale-ups are increasing — and getting more fund

Dubai has as many as 306 fast-growing companies, over 40% of the MENA region’s scale-ups.

Dubai scale-ups are increasing — and getting more fund
[Source photo: Anvita Gupta/Fast Company Middle East]

The number of scale-ups in Dubai increased by 26% in 2022, according to a new report.

Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy’s Venture Capital Ecosystem report noted that scale-ups in the emirate raised over $11.7 billion in capital in the last ten years. It offered an overview of the investor landscape funding the startups and scale-ups in Dubai and the MENA region.

Data showed that 749 scale-ups across the MENA region (excluding Israel) had raised over $19.5 billion over the past decade (2012-2022), with UAE scale-ups accounting for 65% of total cumulative capital.

Dubai has as many as 306 fast-growing companies, over 40% of the MENA region’s scale-ups. The emirate still accounts for over 90% of all scale-ups in the country, which is home to 338 scale-ups in total.

“The UAE’s advanced digital ecosystem has accelerated the development of the entrepreneurship sector and contributed to significant growth in its activity,” said Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, and Chairman of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy.

Al Olama commended the country’s legislation and initiatives as attractive incentives for startups and fast-growing companies, solidifying UAE’s position as a global hub for the digital economy.

He added: “The results in the report reflect our long-term commitment to developing smart digital solutions and deploying these to build a new and future-facing model for the economic sector in the UAE, and Dubai in particular, and underline the emirate’s position as a global capital for the future economy.”

Dubai’s 306 scale-ups have raised over $11.7 billion in funding over the past ten years, representing 60% of the MENA region’s total cumulative fundraising total. In 2022, Dubai-based startups doubled down on their prior year results, fundraising over $2 billion.

Looking at the top 50 most funded startups in MENA, 30 out of the 50 most funded startups in MENA regard UAE as its home. Amongst the top five most funded startups in the MENA, three of the top five were UAE-born.

The MENA region has funding exceeding $4 billion in 2021 and 2022. There’s an increase of mega-rounds in 2022 (raising more than $300 million or more), with four of the six mega-rounds, including AstraTech, Swvl, Kitopi, and Advanta, all being Dubai-based.

In 2022, there was a noticeable shift in the number of funding rounds where scale-ups raised funding, where scale-ups raised funding, and a trend toward larger cheque sizes and funding brackets gained a boost.

Venture capital and corporate rounds accounted for over three-quarters of the capital raised, while IPOs and ICOs accounted for nearly equal shares.

While UAE remains ahead of the curve amongst scale-ups and attracting venture capital, Cairo ranks second with 135 scale-ups, followed by Riyadh in third place with 93 scale-ups and adding 21 scale-ups in 2022, the report said.

Meanwhile, eight out of ten Emirati graduates want to eventually start their own business, according to PwC Middle East’s Emiratization Survey 2023. It said that 80% of Emirati graduates want to develop entrepreneurial skills to become self-employed.

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