OurCrowd keen to boost UAE's startup ecosystem

OurCrowd keen to boost UAE's startup ecosystem

Global venture investing platform OurCrowd is busy implementing its aggressive growth plans in the UAE as it sees huge synergy between the UAE and Israel's startup ecosystem.

"We will extend OurCrowd's global investor base into the UAE and build out OurCrowd Tech Development Co in the UAE, initially focused on developing global fintech solutions," Dr Sabah Al Binali, head of OurCrowd's operations in the UAE and the Gulf region, told Khaleej Times.

"We are also planning to launch OurCrowd Arabia Business Expansion Fund I, which will focus on investing in the business operations of global startups looking to expand their tech-based research, development and innovation operations into the GCC. Our platform will launch OurCrowd Arabia VC Fund I, focused in investing in startups in the GCC and help them scale globally," added Dr Al Binali.

Israeli investors and entrepreneurs got a glimpse of the tech opportunities available in the UAE at a joint online event organised by OurCrowd and the Emirates Angels Investors Association late on Tuesday.

The 'UAE Tech Investment Landscape: Introduction for the Israeli Ecosystem' had over 2,000 registrants who were able to interact with some of the Emirates' top business leaders and officials talking directly to Israelis for the first time.

Jon Medved, OurCrowd CEO, said: "The Emirati startups that we are already looking at are going to be very interesting for Israeli investors. It's really fun to do business with people who are genuinely excited and positive about the recent developments. The stars are aligned for a great beginning to a long-term, fruitful and productive relationship between Israeli and Emirati investors."

Dr Tariq bin Hendi, director-general of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office; Abdullah S. Al Naboodah, chairman of Al Naboodah Investment; Masaood Al Masaood, Chairman, Emirates Angels Investors Association; Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Market; and Dr Al Binali attended the meeting.

"We're really delighted to have signed with OurCrowd," said Al Naboodah, who has created a $100 million partnership with OurCrowd to invest in startups throughout the region.

"For our business, it's vital that we were one of the companies that started the relationship with Israeli companies. We think a lot of startups in this region would like someone like OurCrowd to help them develop. The UAE has always been the hub for the Arab world in terms of tech businesses. We've seen some sold for more than a couple of billion dollars."

Hendi said: "There's a lot of opportunity here, a lot of room for constructive disruption and we want to have a seat at the table on the Israeli side and we want to welcome you to the table that we're sitting at as well and help us drive that change."

The event line-up covered the UAE innovation ecosystem and its key sectors including agritech, edtech, healthtech and robotics.

Al Binali,  who was recently appointed to head OurCrowd's operations in the UAE and the Gulf region said: "The similar size of the Emirati and Israeli economies, and their complementary skill sets, make them extremely compatible for joint business ventures."

"Everyone knows that the opportunity existed, and now that the opportunity from a legal perspective has presented itself, people are moving," Binali said. "In the UAE, Israelis will find a friendly business environment with world-class regulators, sales tax of just five per cent and no corporate income tax. For someone used to a corporate tax rate of 35 per cent, that's a 50 per cent increase in profit right there."

Emirati startups featured included world of farming, which uses hydroponics and vertical farming to grow crops in the UAE's high temperatures and humid climate; Urban, a platform that allows renters to view and visit properties and pay their rent online; and W Motors, creators of the UAE's first electric supercar with hologram technology that allows drivers to control their GPS, radio and entertainment systems by clicking images floating in the air.

Al Masaaod said: "The UAE ecosystem has developed rapidly in the last two years and there are many players that angel investors can tap into. When we look at Israel, known as the 'startup nation', we have a lot to learn from the success stories over there in many fields like agritech, healthcare, artificial intelligence, security and many others where we can collaborate."
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