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Start-up founders say UAE still the most attractive place for fintech regionally

Start-up founders say UAE still the most attractive place for fintech regionally
7 May 2024 09:10


The UAE remains the region’s most attractive place for fintech start-up’s, with founders lured by access to capital, expanding markets in the GCC, access to talent and enviable lifestyle, according to founders and CEOs at the Fintech Summit held in Dubai this week.

“The UAE is the epicentre of innovation in this region. Look at the wider Middle East and Africa region, and you’ll find that the UAE is a place where innovation really happens,” Rajesh Soman, CEO of Integra Technologies, told Aletihad. 
“It’s a great place to meet different minds, different people, different ideas. It’s an amazing place to collaborate and learn, as well as offer solutions to various segments working in the finTech industry. The energy is infectious and it’s amazing.”

DIFC’s Governor, Essa Kazim, previously revealed that over 1,000 fintech and innovation firms registered in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) and they have raised $3.3 billion in venture capital funding globally, with the number of registrations increasing 31% between 2022 and 2023.

The founder of BitOasis, the UAE’s first crypto exchange, said given the chance to reopen today she would still choose the UAE every time. She lauded the diverse range of talent that the UAE provided, saying it was a crucial differentiator for start-up founders in the region. 

“Compared to other markets, in the UAE it’s typically easier to hire, you’ve got a multicultural diverse talent pool compared to other parts of the GCC, there is a thriving expat community here,” she told Aletihad.

“It’s also great in terms of investors as well as VC events, the community exists here. there’s a thriving crypto community as well.”

For Mirna Sleiman, founder and chief executive officer of Fintech Galaxy, despite the enormous amounts of capital currently on offer in other parts of the region, particularly Saudi Arabia, the choice of the UAE for the headquarters of her open-banking firm was an obvious one for personal reasons.

“Nothing beats the lifestyle that Dubai offers, especially for families, my colleague came all the way from London and didn’t even think twice,” she told Aletihad.

“Even from a business perspective, it’s easy, it’s tax free, you don’t think about a lot of things. There’s no restriction on nationalities. Even now, when we’re applying for license at the Central Bank of the UAE for an open banking license, I can do it in freedom, I don’t need to worry about being mainland or anything like that.”

For Helal Tariq Lootah, co-CEO and co-founder of Lune Technologies, an Emirati data company working with leading financial institutions in the Middle East, the ecosystem provided in the UAE was pivotal to the ultimate success of his venture.

“We are probably the luckiest people in the world to be in this ecosystem, to be able to have all the support.  Our company was started in 2020 and we started with just a simple idea. Then we pivoted and we developed, and we wouldn’t have been able to do all of this, if it were not for the ecosystem that we have here in the UAE, specifically in Dubai,” he told Aletihad.

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