Entrepreneurship in the United Arab Emirates

Prof. Gouher Ahmed, Skyline University College


The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is born out of a colonial past and Bedouin heritage, but within a short time of about four decades has risen to the stage as a developed and very enterprising state. The UAE is a modern-time development ‘miracle’, as the war-devastated Germany and Japan in the post-second world war (1939-45) era, owing to their entrepreneur rising spirit and entrepreneurship and innovations. The founding fathers of the Emirates had a great vision of wholesome development and public welfare for their desert-state of seven federating units. It is today a beautiful blend of tradition and modernity, and of East and West. It is not allowing only to the Oil boom of the 1970s and big money flowing from it, for big money calls for good planning, sound investments and supportive upright and forward-looking entrepreneurship, of which there is enough blossoming and flourishing in the Emirates.

Even the great financial crisis of 2008 and its aftermath of the Great Recession could not much dent the enterprises and entrepreneurship in the Emirates, where business seems to be as usual, with no enterprise shut-downs, credit defaults, budgetary crisis and social unrest and protests; indications enough of the macro entrepreneurship of the country. The Arab entrepreneurship appears to be on a good display and great march in the United Arab Emirates, on par with the established and reputed entrepreneurship of the West and even overtaking it in some cases.

Following the great financial crisis of 2008 on account of dishonest and gambling-like business/banking practices, the Arab UAE entrepreneurship creed appears to be a guide for sound and unfailing entrepreneurship and upright business practices and enterprises which appear to be great need of the present troubled business times with a great business and public divide. The globalised 21st century, with economic liberalisation (WTO) free trade regime, appears to have added much to UAE entrepreneurship, with the Emirates’ enterprises taking oil to foreign shores, as the Emirates Airlines is more prominent in the skies. Significantly, it has its trading partners – global trading giants-the USA, China, Japan, Germany, France and others, but it seems more at home with India on the strict business and entrepreneurship principles.

Needless to say, the UAE entrepreneurship is of global display in farms, orchards, animal and bird breeding, malls, shipping yards, airports, infrastructure, free zones, hotels, resorts, high-rise building, parks, designers and other townships, free zones which are home to world business schools, universities, sports events and what not. Far more, the entrepreneurship combines tradition and modernity, and is firmly rooted in the Emirates’ soil. The Entrepreneurship well covers small enterprises and small family business to giant corporations and it is spread across all social age groups, male and female, and natives and the expatriates. Entrepreneurship appears to be in the very air and is so nature-friendly. It is nursed and helped by the great helping hand of the government through good governance, great infrastructure, education, health, training, guidance, banking and credit. It, with the passage of time, is sure to take a more centre stage of the global trade and business. For, it is marked by the spirit of innovations, the great business movers. It is of world-class, quite exemplary.