Tech City Spotlight: Dubai
Historically a city heavily dependant on oil, Dubai has successfully established itself as an international financial, manufacturing and trade hub and is in the process of becoming a tech giant. It is a city of skyscrapers built on oil and gold, but today commodities including oil account for less than 2% of Dubai’s GDP and the country is leading the way in technological advances including motoring and e-commerce. By 2030 Shaikh Mohammad plans to have 25% of all transportation trips driverless, all part of the strategy to become the smartest city in the world.
The Government’s continued support in building the city’s tech ecosystem has allowed for the transformation into the business mecca it is today. Business friendly policies, a favourable corporate tax system and new accelerators and coworking spaces have allowed many foreign entrepreneurs to flourish. Of course there is no shortage of investors and neither companies or individuals (including expats) pay sales or income tax, so the conditions are extremely good for entrepreneurs.
Internet City is the region’s first and biggest ICT hub and the centre of innovation. It’s home to big hitters like Microsoft, Google and Oracle as well as more than 70 SMEs and startups. Currently Dubai is actively looking for startups that could add value to the area and be scalable businesses.
Being such a young city Dubai has an affinity for the future. The youth of Dubai are a tech savvy audience that have fully embraced consumer technology. As an entry point to the fast-developing markets of Asia, the Middle East and Africa, Dubai is well positioned to serve markets which are growing at double the rate of the developed world. E-commerce offers some of the biggest opportunities in Dubai, with the likes of Namshi and Souq dominating the market.
Dubai is the go to hub for the entire MENA region and naturally a lot of talent relocates here, namely for the career opportunities. An astounding 95% of the city’s private-sector workers aren’t originally from the UAE. In a region where creativity can be a luxury, and day-to-day living a challenge, Dubai is an exciting prospect in many ways.
Where to live:
Jumeirah is the area for beach lovers. The area consists of 6 clusters of high-rise apartment blocks looking over the sea. An ocean view will cost you more, but in general the area is reasonably priced and there is a fun holiday vibe all year round. A little more expensive; Dubai Marina suits those that love the city. The marina has some of Dubai’s best views, with some apartments looking onto the Palm. Arabian Ranches is a gated community perfect for families. The villas and townhouses tend to be popular with expats because of the larger houses, private pools and gardens. It’s a quieter area slightly out of the city center. Downtown Dubai doesn’t have the same leafy feel but it does have a buzz to it. Many of the houses have an Arabian feel to them and it’s possible to get a duplex with a garden and within walking distance from Dubai mall.
Where to eat:
Of course Dubai is huge on Brunch. Tr!beca offers a laid back brunch with a focus on organic meat with casual vibes. Traiteur was voted Dubai’s best brunch by timeout. Expect fancy food – lobster, truffle and french cheese. Pier 7 has an array of hip venues under one roof so there really is something for everyone. You’ll find Arabic, Asian, British, European, Latino… The list goes on. Beautiful views of dazzling skyscrapers and water. If you’re after modern Arabic dishes try Cle. High-end but very high-quality. 101 at One&only The Palm is really something special. Mediterranean dishes served on the open-air pier with panoramic views of the city’s skyline and the Arabian Gulf.
Where to drink:
Dubai is home to some of the most glamorous bars and nightclubs in the world, and it’s the hotels that are home to most of the best bars. Barasti is a fun beach front bar which is been going for 20+ years. Great location, laid-back vibes and an ‘anything goes’ dress code. Blue Marlin is a clubbers’ paradise – a plush beach bar that throws day-to-night parties on the weekends. For a good glass of wine try the Agency Wine Bar – elegant and not too expensive. Q43 and Zuma are fun after work spot for drinks, and good food available too.
What to do:
Dubai is a haven for extreme sports – think waterskiing, sailing, quad biking, skiing, white water rafting, skydiving, desert camping, 4×4 adventures and gun ranges… Thrill seekers don’t miss the Ferrari world theme park or the Wild Wadi water park. Visit the expansive shopping malls, but also check out Bur Dubai Souq for more atmospheric shopping experience. A visit to the world’s tallest building – the Burj Khalifa – is not to be missed. A trip to Al Fahidi makes a welcome change to the skyscrapers – it’s a restored heritage area with narrow walking lanes, museums, craft shops and cultural exhibits.