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SME owners see win as an opportunity to grow

Dubai: Small and medium businesses in the UAE are likely to be big beneficiaries of Wednesday’s win as Dubai now gears up to make the Expo2020 a success.

Established and budding entrepreneurs expect the hosting of the event six years away would not only bring in more business but also provide a significant boost to the economy of the country and the region as a whole. Some also feel the event would allow them to showcase their success, contributed to by the openness and opportunities Dubai and UAE have to offer to those who have an entrepreneurial spirit.

In the context of Dubai’s proven SME ecosystem, The Links Group’s chief executive John Martin St Valery believes there will be an immediate and sustainable upsurge in the interest of both new start-up businesses and existing international SMEs attracted to the region as a result of this significant Expo win.

“This is a well deserved win for Dubai on the basis of a well thought out, intelligent and compelling business case,” said St Valery, founder of a Top 100 SMEs in Dubai. “Dubai is far bigger than one event but the win endorses the infrastructure – both existing and planned – of a global business hub. The wider region is the winner here and globally recognised as the vibrant, safe and secure business hub of the future.”

The sector currently account for 92 per cent of the country’s total registered companies, 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector and 40 per cent of the GDP, according to the UAE Ministry of Economy.

In the post global financial crisis period, with more and more banks and government institutions setting up funds to support grown up and fledgling enterprises, the role of the private sector and within that the SMEs will likely gain further momentum. This, in the run up to the Expo 2020, will aid job growth, some entrepreneurs feel.

“I can only think of the jobs that this Expo 2020 would create regardless of one’s nationality in the world where countries face an unemployment rate of 30 per cent to 60 per cent among youth,” said Abdul Nasser Al Shaali, an economist, who runs his own boutique management consultancy.

This is besides the jobs that will be indirectly created through the promotion of an entrepreneurial spirit via existing business incubators and ones that will be established in the preparation of a proper representation in Expo 2020, he said.

“The empowerment of the private sector with the right measures being set in place will provide a balance in the jobs market, and hopefully assume a leading role in recruiting and hiring Emiratis without which winning such a bid would have not been successful,” Al Shaali added.

“Dubai Expo 2020 is the right opportunity for Emiratis with ideas and Emiratis with dreams to establish their businesses with the right planning and appropriate advice provided by venture capitalists, angel investors and consultants. Dubai after all is a dream emirate and will always be, though in Dubai, dreams do come true,” he said.

Others believe local enterprises will be able to leverage the win to spread themselves and connect beyond the region.

“My hope is that Expo2020 will give our SMEs exposure and the opportunity to shine for a broader global audience,” said Mohammad Parham Al Awadhi, co-host and producer of Peeta Planet, an award-winning Social Travel Series on television station Dubai One. “As local businesses, I think we have a lot to offer the world too.”

One of the founders of Duplays.com, a sports networking site, which organises sports leagues in the UAE, see the Expo win as great for each element of their business.

“The influx of jobs will lead to more participants for various sports and activities,” said Davinder “Derv” Rao, oa co-founder and currently the managing director of Duplays. “We hope the win will also lead to an investment in both transport and sport infrastructure as a result of preparations for 2020.

“With more organisations coming to the country and more exposure to the city and its benefits, both through tourism before and during the Expo, event companies like ours and others in the industry should see an uptake in business,” said Rao.

There is also an element of pride in the emirate and the country that he wants to showcase to others beyond borders.

“From a personal standpoint, I want to put Dubai on the map and show the world what the UAE has to offer and the opportunities it has given myself and many of my friends,” he said.

Then there are others who are looking forward to joining hands with the organisers and other stakeholders to make the it a spectacular event when the day finally arrives.

“We are very proud of the position we are in as the number one partner of Sage [a global supplier accounting and business management software to start-ups and SMEs] in the Middle East and honestly believe that we will contribute effectively to Dubai hosting the Expo2020 and making a mark in history,” said R.S. Moni, chief executive of Triad Software Services, which he co-founded with his wife in Dubai.

Congratulating Dubai and its people on the win, Hydros Jasem, founder of Dubai-based Fragrance Delivery Technologies, an odour control system company which he established in 2005, said he is “sure that we will all work along with the government of Dubai towards making the Expo 2020 one of the best events in the world.”