Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi

Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi

Supporting SMEs a top priority for UAE

The sector represents more than 94 per cent of the total number of companies operating and provides jobs for more than 86 per cent of the private sector’s workforce

August 2020

Supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is a top priority in the UAE’s agenda for ensuring the growth of national economy in the future, said Dr Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.

Calling the sector `the backbone of the UAE economy’, the minister said the sector continues to be an important area of focus for the government of the UAE owing to its pivotal role in the development of the national economy.

“The Government of the UAE seeks to continuously enhance the competitiveness of the business environment in the country and introduce various programmes and policies that contribute to maintaining the advanced position of the country globally. As a result, the UAE ranked fifth globally in entrepreneurship according to the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) index,” said Dr Al Falasi.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi

Abdul Baset Al Janahi

According to the UAE’s Ministry of Economy, the SME sector represents more than 94 per cent of the total number of companies operating and provides jobs for more than 86 per cent of the private sector’s workforce. In Dubai alone, SMEs make up nearly 95 per cent of all companies, employing 42 per cent of the workforce and contributing around 40 per cent to Dubai’s GDP.

During a meeting with local entrepreneurs from across the UAE and representatives of institutions and SME incubators, Dr Al Falasi said the business ecosystem is currently focused on adopting tangible measures to find practical solutions to all challenges related to entrepreneurship and strengthening mechanisms for its stability and prosperity across the country’s various vital sectors.

The meeting, attended by Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Sanad Al Meqbali, Chairman of the Board of the Emirati Entrepreneurs Association; and Ibrahim Shahin, Vice President of the Emirati Entrepreneurs Association, discussed the demands of local entrepreneurs, representatives of institutions and SMEs incubators.

Dr Al Falalsi said that the SMEs represent the backbone of the global economy and serve as a flexible tool for governments to support their economies. The sector makes up about 90 per cent of companies in the world, and in some developed countries such as South Korea and Japan, its contribution reaches up to 99 per cent.

“Several measures have been adopted at the federal and local levels to support the sector and increase its contribution to the national economy. SMEs have received a great deal of attention from the UAE and local governments during the past months in light of the Covid-19 crisis in the form of support and economic stimulus packages that have been announced. The Ministry of Economy and its partners will continue to work towards initiating these projects and supporting the capacity and continuity of their activities, which will have a tangible positive impact on the country’s SME sector,” he added.

Meanwhile the Dubai SME, the agency of Dubai Economy, mandated to develop the small and medium enterprise, SME, sector and entrepreneurship continued to expand and diversify its advisory and support programmes in 2019 with an added emphasis on enhancing SME competitiveness and strengthening Dubai as a hub of innovation and entrepreneurship.

The past year saw 3,871 Emirati entrepreneurs benefit from the start-up advisory services of Dubai SME, with nearly AED170 million ($46.2 million) of exemptions and incentives to launch and grow businesses in diverse sectors.

Overall, local entrepreneurs received over AED630 million worth of incentives and support from Dubai SME since its inception in 2002. The total number of Emirati entrepreneurs supported to date by Dubai SME also increased to 38,565 by the end of 2019.

Abdul Baset Al Janahi, CEO of Dubai SME, stated that 2019 was a challenging but remarkably successful year for Dubai SME in its efforts to align with the diverse SME capabilities and entrepreneurial talent available locally with the ambitious growth strategies in Dubai as well as the UAE, and the vision of the leadership to make the country an innovation-driven, knowledge-based economy.

“The year, in general, has been exciting for Emirati entrepreneurs considering the regional and global economic challenges, especially since it witnessed the launch of various initiatives by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, to promote entrepreneurship and innovation, and economic incentives to support SMEs,” Al Janahi said.  

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