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Abu Dhabi launches Fikra Labs to find best start-ups in tourism

Selected star-ups will each receive $100,000 investment under programme

Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News
Fadi Ghandour, Chairman of Wamda Group, makes apresentation as (from left) Ahmad Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman of Abu Dhabi General Market (ADGM), Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism Abu Dhabi and Miral and Tony Douglas, Chief Executive Officer of Etihad, listen at a panel discussion to the launch of Fikra Labs.
Gulf News

Abu Dhabi

Several leading Abu Dhabi organisations on Monday joined together to launch Fikra Labs, an accelerator programme that will provide up to $100,000 for tourism start ups.

The programme is a joint effort involving The Department of Culture and Tourism — Abu Dhabi, Miral, Etihad Aviation Group, and Abu Dhabi Exhibitions Company (Adnec) in partnership with Wamda. Under the programme, the most promising applicants will be narrowed down to 12, after which they will go through a four-week incubator period. On the final day of the programme, the finalists will present their final prototype ideas, with the four winners being announced during an awarding ceremony. Registrations for applications closes on 5 March.

“Adnec is pleased to be one of the founding partners of the Fikra Labs initiative, which offers us an ideal platform to accelerate the creation and adoption of innovative ideas in the business tourism sector,” said Noura Al Ka’abi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Department and chairwoman of ADNEC.

“In supporting this initiative, we seek to provide an enabling environment for investment in the creative ideas of our young entrepreneurs and turning them into reality. We are confident that investing in creative ideas and maximising their impact on tourism and related sectors will give a fresh impetus to the industry,” she added.

Mohammad Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism, also commented positively on the new initiative, and said it would help cultivate the best ideas for the tourism sector.

“We are excited to identify the best talent who will drive innovation and help further transform Abu Dhabi into the leading global hub for travel and tourism, so that we can continue to provide visitors with the best experiences.”

Al Mubarak, who also serves as chairman for Miral, said the new programme would help turn entrepreneurial ideas into real success projects.

“As one of the catalysts for Abu Dhabi’s economic diversification, we are very excited to be part of this partnership that will help nurture talent and provide them with the tools and opportunities to build creative and innovative capabilities to establish projects that will benefit the future of the tourism sector in our country.”

Saif Saeed Ghobash, director general at the Department of Culture and Tourism, said the winning start-ups would be selected based on their ability to meet the challenges put forward to them during the incubation period.

“It’s basically about the ability of these start-ups to address the challenges we pose to them as well as our assessment on their ability to deliver.

“For us it’s really about improving the returns of our investment, and so whoever we end up choosing will be selected based on these key areas,” he added.

Ghobash also spoke on the need to keep improving as an industry due to the competitive nature of the tourism sector.

“Today, there is an increased competition in the tourism sector with every tourism board looking for market share from the same sourced market, and so we have to distinguish our efforts,” he said.

Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group chief executive officer, said the company was looking forward to giving young entrepreuners a platform for their ideas.

“The UAE’s vision in supporting innovative ideas will not only strengthen the economy but will also contribute to the development of many sectors including transport, travel and tourism.”

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