The start of the summer season has been more eventful than usual. Even with the outflow of expatriates and residents who are going on holiday, there has been a lot of momentum, particularly in the retail and tourism side to keep traffic flowing into Dubai and Abu Dhabi, as the situation in many other destinations in the region is not conducive to tourism at the moment. On the business side, organisations have wrapped up their major events beforethe start of Ramadan.
I recently attended a conference on the rebuilding Libya sponsored by Dubai Chamber. I spoke to Atiq Juma Faraj Nasib, Senior Director of Commercial Services at Dubai Chamber, who told me that senior Dubai government officials have made Libya a priority, and have put an action plan in place with regards to ways it can help Libya develop its infrastructure and economy. If all goes well with the transition of a new authority, Nasib hinted at the possibility of Dubai Ports running the country’s ports, as well as Dnata taking over some of its airport services. Dubai Chamber plans to send and receive trade delegations to promote better understanding and cooperation between the two countries.
The big question on everyone’s mind is who will be running Libya after it holds its elections on 7th July. With a soaring unemployment in the region, the spotlight is on SMEs as a way forward in driving job growth and innovation. As countries like Libya, Egypt and Tunisia begin to set their new priorities and economic goals, Nasib suggested that new governments look at Dubai’s achievements in this category as an example. To create institutions similar to Dubai SME and the Khalifa Fund would be a wise way to tackle the issue head on.
I also attended the awards ceremony for the MIT Arab Business Plan competition which was held in Dubai this year. I met with many of the finalists, who turned out to have some really innovative and well-thought out business ideas, many of them web –based that integrate social media and cloud technology. The winner of the competition, a young Lebanese female entrepreneur had developed a pair of goggles with sensory technology that can read a swimmer’s heart rate and the amount of calories burned. The product has already finished its prototype stage and with the prize money, she plans to start marketing the product to vendors in the US.
I also met a team from Egypt that was inspired by the uprising in that country last year and started a media productions company that uses crowd sourcing to create and develop its multimedia projects. These projects can be marketed to governments and corporations looking for this type of unique, user-generated content. Overall, the vibe I got from this group of young motivated individuals was one of excitement and drive as they all have big plans ahead of them for taking their business ideas to the next level.
Looking ahead, the events scene will be rather slow as Ramadan starts, however, it has been the tradition of many technology companies here in the UAE to host Iftars in which they engage and invite businesses, media and the general public. We at SME Advisor will be very busy planning our upcoming events for the fall. A series of our Success Series workshop and networking events will be held in the early fall. We are excited to announce that nominations are now open process for the 2012 SME Stars of Business Awards to be held on November 28th in Dubai (check out www.smeadvisor.com/awards2012 for more infomation). We will also be hosting our third and final CPI Business Golf Day of the year. Be sure to check out www.smeadvisor.com/smeevents/ for the latest information on all of our events.
Before joining SME Advisor, I worked as a producer/reporter for Forbes Media in New York. I obtained a Bachelor’s degree in Journalism and International Studies at the University of South Florida in the US. I am currently in Dubai working as Sub-Editor for SME Advisor Middle East, which is a business magazine published by CPI. You can follow me on Twitter: @joumanasaad or @SMEadvisorME and (Joumana Saad) or (SME Advisor) on LinkedIn.