SEF 2021 opened on Monday with a discussion on the role of entrepreneurship in securing the progress of the UAE for the next 50 years and beyond Image Credit: Supplied

Entrepreneurship will serve as the infrastructure of UAE’s post-oil economy in 50 years, and this change will be brought about by the country’s strong focus on innovation and the opportunities provided to aspiring founders, experts at the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF 2021) said on Monday.

Speaking at the event organised by the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center (Sheraa) at the emirate’s Expo Centre, the experts hailed the nation’s business environment that is attracting creative talents from around the world and supporting the growth of businesses seeking efficient solutions to pressing global challenges.

“Having the required skills and confidence in one’s abilities and a growth mindset are factors that form the basis of entrepreneurial success. Therefore, here in Sharjah, we seek to inspire the next generation of founders by spotlighting the unique challenges, journeys and stories of success of leading entrepreneurs from the UAE, the region and the world,” said Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson, Sheraa.

SEF 2021 opened on Monday with a discussion on the role of entrepreneurship in securing the progress of the UAE for the next 50 years and beyond, in a panel session titled, “50 Years of the UAE: The Growth of an Entrepreneurial Nation”.

Stating that the country is open for entrepreneurs across sectors and revealing that investments into the UAE have doubled in the past four years, Dr. Ahmed Belhoul Al Falasi, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said that the goal of the ministry is “to create a platform for the ecosystem by the ecosystem.”

The focus is on changing the culture of entrepreneurship at an early age, he said, adding, “a big part of what we do is to bring students in schools and universities into the system to increase the funnel of founders in the region.”

“The ministry has set an aspirational target of having 20 unicorns by 2031,” he added, “but our overarching goal is to work with entrepreneurs to help them overcome barriers and ensure their progression across different stages of the journey. We work to enable entrepreneurs make the transition from micro to small or small to medium enterprises to maximise their potential.”

Urging the youth to consider entrepreneurship and avail of the opportunities available in the UAE, he said: “At your age, failure is less of a barrier than it would be when you are 40 or 50. So, fail young, fail fast, and repeat.”

Fadi Ghandour, executive chairman of Wamda Capital and founder of Aramex; Magnus Olsson, co-founder of Careem; Alper Celen, founder, Enhance Ventures; Egyptian adventurers and athletes Omar Samra and Omar Nour, and Pauline Nguyen, business leader and author, participated in discussions on the opening day of the forum.