My colleague Niall O’Toole was a speaker at the Scale Up UAE event for startups and entrepreneurs in Dubai. He highlighted a number of legal developments that are improving the landscape for startup businesses - as well as areas where more could be done.

Access to capital and high startup costs continue to be an issue, although the Middle East has seen a growth in accelerator programmes that offer support and facilities to growing businesses. Governments are also pushing for more SME involvement in public contracts - small and medium sized enterprises have so far secured more than 50% of awarded contracts for Dubai’s Expo 2020. 

The UAE’s new bankruptcy law has so far had limited impact, but hopes are high that the newly-created register of moveable assets by the Emirates Development Bank to help SMEs secure loans and initiatives such as ADGM’s regulatory sandbox regime will help to encourage a culture of innovation. This focus on nurturing a startup ecosystem will be critical as the UAE and other countries in the region continue efforts to diversify their economies.