50 shades of innovation: the UAE's quest to become a tech powerhouse

November 23, 2021

UAE Projects of the 50 and the top emerging investments

Source: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

Are the 'Projects of the 50' set to make the Middle East the go-to tech hub for investors and talent?

The UAE government has set a target to double the size of the national economy in the next ten years. They have signed contracts with eight key countries to establish trade and meet this goal as part of the 'Projects of the 50'.

The target is to increase the national economy from AED 1.4 trillion to AED 3 trillion. Technology and innovation will be vital to meeting these goals.

  1. What are the 'Projects of the 50'?
  2. Paving the way for the 'Projects of the 50'
    2.1 Emerging Spaces in UAE
    2.2 Auto Commerce and V2X
    2.3 NFTs and Decentralised Fiance
    2.4 Top Companies
    2.5 Top Most Active Investors
  3. 'Projects of the 50': where this is going?
    3.1 First Steps
    3.2 The second set of ‘Projects of the 50’
  4. Projects in the stars: UAE Space Programme
    4.1 Emirati interplanetary mission 2028
    4.2 Emiratis Mars Mission
    4.3 To Infinity and beyond
  5. Let us help you grow your business in the UAE

What are the 'Projects of the 50'?

The ‘Projects of the 50’ is an ambitious program developed to digital transform the region exponentially. The initiative will transform the UAE tech market, which is already worth 5.5 billion, into the role of market leader in the following years. The private sector will be crucial to this ascension. 

The initiative has been launched through three proposals: the first set of 'Projects of the 50', the second set of 'Projects of the 50', and Emirati interplanetary mission 2028

The energy, mobility and space industries will benefit greatly from this endeavour and the many advanced technologies developed.

The projects have different practical goals, but they all move towards the same purpose: to accelerate the digital and sustainable transformation of the UAE. 

Paving the way for the 'Projects of the 50'

Emerging Spaces in UAE

Some areas are already drawing attention to the amount of investment received recently. The world of NFT’s (Non-Fungible Tokens), for example, gained prominence with the Dubai-based company Colexion, which received an $8 million contribution from Polygon, based in India. With this move, the latter hopes to use its know-how in the crypto market to increase the use of that digital technology in India considerably.

Below is a detailed analysis of how the market has evolved in UAE since 2019. These are some of the top emerging spaces with UAE-based companies.

Top tech emerging spaces in UAE

Auto Commerce and V2X

While the Auto Commerce sector seeks to facilitate automotive vehicle ownership through digital services, V2X is responsible for laying the foundations that will enable better connectivity between vehicles and smart cities, aiming to mature autonomous driving.

According to Pitchbook's records, the Auto Commerce sector has already received more than 25 billion dollars of investments worldwide.

NFTs and Decentralised Fiance

The United Arab Emirates is now one of the leading markets in cryptocurrency and blockchain technologies. The Dubai Blockchain Center and the DMCC Crypto Center are two initiatives to boost the decentralised finance ecosystem and bring together entrepreneurs and investors.

The government has created a solid framework to protect consumers and set the stone for a healthy business environment. For instance, Dubai plans to be trading more than 1,000 crypto assets by 2022 in its digital market. We are witnessing the consolidation of a technological hub with a lot of potential.

Colexion, a UAE-based developer of a Non-Fungible tokens platform, has raised 8 million dollars in a Pre-Series A funding round. The company's growth has shown that we can expect its leadership in the digital trade market of celebrities' collectables.

Colexion weekly growth rate

Top Companies

Digging deeper into the records, we can see the top UAE-based companies and how much capital they have raised since their founding.

B2B companies and emerging spaces in UAE

The three companies in the Auto Commerce sector, Invygo, Carasti and CarSwitch, are placing the spotlight on themselves by revolutionizing the automotive market with subscription platforms and marketplace services.

Has anyone ever told you that in the future, no one will own anything? Well, as far as cars go, this is already very close to coming true.

Top Most Active Investors

Check out our chart that shows the main investors in these sectors and the deal count numbers.

top investors in UAE tech emerging spaces

This sector will not be new for much longer — Auto Commerce has become a reality and is on track to quickly become the next disruption in the technology field and automotive industries.

The number of investors, top companies and total capital invested show that it is no longer a matter of time; it is already happening.

Innovation in the United Arab Emirates is being communicated worldwide through major events and the performance of its companies. And what is better, today, innovation is nourishing sustainability.

'Projects of the 50': where this is going?

First Steps

The first plans to take off the pioneering technological spirit at UAE include facilitating visas for students, investors and professional talents.

The economic agreements with strategic markets globally will be crucial to accelerating this growth policy.

One of the most striking points in the action booklet are those directly related to digital transformation in the region:

  • UAE Data Law - regulation created in conjunction with tech companies to empower individuals regarding their data.

  • 1000 Coders Every Day - incentives for the industry to benefit from 3,000 coders every month.

  • Pycon Summit - the largest programming event in the Middle East will take place in UAE.

  • The Fourth Industrial Revolution Network - aims to push and stabilize leading national companies to be global leaders.

Other initiatives:

  • 10x10 Program - 10% increase in exports to 10 key countries.

  • Invest.ae - a platform to present all investment opportunities in the UAE.

  • Emirates Investment Summit - the global summit is expected to attract AED 550 billion in Foreign Direct Investment over the next nine years.

  • In-Country Value Program - aims to redirect more than 50% of bureaucratic spending on purchases and services in the domestic market by 2030.

  • Project 5Bn - AED 5 billion will be injected in UAE's priority sectors.

  • Tech Drive Program - through a partnership with the Emirates Development Bank, the fund will support entrepreneurs and increase the region's productivity by 30%.

The second set of ‘Projects of the 50’

The second batch of benefits to boost technological development in UAE aims to employ 75,000 Emiratis in the private market within 5 years.

The government's support is to stimulate the acquisition of national talent by the industry and foster national entrepreneurship.

A number of incentive programs were announced covering areas such as:

  • Financial support to meritocracy.

  • Financial support for the recruitment of national talents.

  • Financial support for professional development.

  • Financial support for parents.

  • Career break incentive.

  • Retirement incentive.

Projects in the stars: UAE Space Programme

You've probably heard of new space technology companies like SpaceX or Blue Origin, but did you know that the newest hope for humanity to reach the stars is on the other side of the world?

The United Arab Emirates has its own NASA, the UAE Space Agency, which also has a partnership with a local training centre, the Mohammed bin Rashid Space Center (MBRSC).

The nation's technological advancement in this field is impressive. The MBRSC selected and trained the first Emirati sent to space, Major Hazza Al Mansouri, in 2019.

The UAE has already mapped out its two next ambitious goals in the technological space revolution.

Even though it is not in the charts above, the space sector is already considered the most promising of the entire UAE due to recent results. And this is a clear step towards where the global market is going.


Emirati interplanetary mission 2028

The mission is planned to take place in 2028, with the launch of the spacecraft that will explore the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The belt is the source of most meteorites that impact the Earth, and researching it can accelerate innovation in space engineering and scientific research.

The mission is planned in partnership with the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado. 

Emiratis Mars Mission

Entitled "Hope Probe", the mission was launched in 2020 and the probe sent reached the orbit of Mars in February 2021. The probe could then capture images and provide the necessary material for advances in studies of the Martian atmosphere.

This will be central to UAE Space Agency's most ambitious plan: to build a real city on Mars in the next century.

emirates hope mission

Source: Frame Stock Footage/Shutterstock

To Infinity and beyond

Investment in the space industry is constantly accelerating, largely due to the bases already established by the government of the United Arab Emirates.

There is already a federal law that regulates the space industry and the founding document of the National Space Policy.

The prospects for the space sector in the UAE are the best possible and this could be the start of a new era for humanity with Middle East leadership in an area that is crucial to our future as a species.

And, we can forget to mention the top companies in the space tech sector that are attracting the market's attention, and those could be key partners to the UAE's space industry. 

Space-Tech-v2(Space X is not on the chart as it outperformed the average raising more than $6 billion since its start in 2002)

With all the investments in sectors distinguished as data science-driven, it is expected to see a growth in data analysis financing (and software engineering).

With that in mind, it is no surprise to step on news that highlights the 8% estimative rate of compounded annual growth of the data entre market in the MENA region. 

Let us help you grow your business in the UAE

The UAE is a region full of opportunities that today's companies cannot afford to pass up. And we at Airswift can help you with that.

Our company has more than 60 offices worldwide and has a workforce of over 9,000 contractors. Our areas of expertise cover the most different sectors such as energy, infrastructure and technology.

We have what you need to scale your business and help you be the next investor in the United Arab Emirates.

Grow your business in the UAE

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This post was written by: Raphael Santos, Content Marketing Coordinator