Technology Sector Could Further Diversify Dubai’s Economy
Oil and gas only accounts for a sliver of Dubai's economy. But while international trade, this Gulf city’s foundation, is growing, Dubai could benefit from further diversification if it is to shake off the lingering effects from the financial crisis of a few years ago. The bloated property sector, evident in the empty new housing developments and office buildings that line the United Arab Emirates' most exciting, bombastic and risk-taking city, still acts like a boot on this dynamic city's neck. Technology could strengthen Dubai's economy and help it on a more sustainable path in a post-oil economy. The signs already indicate that Dubai could be a thriving technology center that has helped other economies like Singapore and even Bulgaria gain strength. Zones like the Dubai Silicon Oasis (pictured here, click to expand) and Dubai Internet City are successful because they attract companies intrigued by Dubai's quick access to billions of people from Europe to China, low taxes and within these zones, streamlined bureaucratic procedures. But so far regional marketing offices are propping up Dubai's nascent technology sector. Companies like Oracle and HP are wise to establish regional offices there. But what Dubai really needs is technology. Software engineers, programmers and top information and communications technology professionals should be lured to this Middle East hub in addition (or even instead of) the bankers and construction experts who flock to this corner of the Gulf. Dubizzle is one of Dubai's technology stars. The easy to navigate buy-and-sell site scores over 100 million page views a month in 14 MENA (Middle East & North Africa) countries and is growing. Dubizzle also acts as its own small business incubator by providing users an opportunity to launch products and services that North Americans have long enjoyed thanks to companies like Amazon, eBay and Craigslist. Entrepreneurs like Rachel Morton, who co-founded Social Circles UAE and Rama Chakaki of Baraka.ae and Zeedna.com are among technology leaders making a push with their version of social media sites and business incubators. But what Dubai and the rest of the Middle East is top talent that can provide this region what it sorely lacks: patents and a strong research and development culture. Countries like Korea and yes, even the older economies like those in North America and the Europe benefit from long term strength because their innovators can create, tinker and register their technologies with confidence that they will receive proper intellectual property protection. One complaint launched against leaders in the Arabian Gulf Region is that they use their money to buy prestige and events. A smarter and more sustainable business solution would be to buy and retain the best engineers and coders. Dubai offers a great lifestyle for the globe's top talent; geeks should be given every reason to thrive here. Read about how Dubai’s sustainability agenda must start with public health on Triple Pundit.