Gulf News’ Flying Colours competition, in association with Emirates Airline, closed earlier this month Image Credit: Supplied

More than 300 small and medium-sized enterprises responded to our recent Flying Colours start-up competition, which closed earlier this month. Flying Colours presented UAE-based SMEs with the opportunity to share their unique business ideas and concepts to win flights worth Dh100,000 on Emirates Airline.

The competition, which launched on November 25, 2018, was created in recognition of this dynamic and important sector of the UAE economy. It was conceptualised to support the spirit of innovation, diversity and creativity in the country, ahead of Expo 2020 and during the Year of Tolerance.

Entrants reflected the country’s vibrant SME culture. From an organic food company, which grows and sells produce in the UAE, to a recycling start-up, the entrepreneurs’ ideas illustrated the country’s increasing drive towards sustainability – one of the themes of Expo 2020.


Participants included the inventor of an innovative product, patented and manufactured from recycled materials here in the UAE. The start-up is also World Fair Trade Organization-certified, ensuring overseas workers benefit from the equal opportunities stipulated in the workplace pillar of the UAE’s Year of Tolerance and in-line with the country’s commitment to becoming a model of tolerance internationally.

The competition also attracted a wide variety of innovators, ranging from an SME that aims to simplify vehicle rental and eradicate the need for paper, to an aquaculture company that’s working to increase the country’s food sustainability and reduce its dependence on imported fish.

The significance of the SME sector is demonstrated by Ministry of Economy figures, which reveal that SMEs account for 95 per cent of all entities in the UAE, employing more than 86 per cent of the county’s private sector workforce and contributing 60 per cent to the UAE’s GDP.

On January 28, shortlisted candidates will present their business ideas to an expert panel at Emirates Group Headquarters. A winner will be announced on GulfNews.com in early February.

To learn more about competition entrants, visit Ideas Runway, which is a partnership between Gulf News and Emirates Airline. You can find Ideas Runway on Gulf News, where you will also discover stories and insights that reflect human ingenuity and the themes of Dubai Expo 2020 – sustainability, mobility and connectivity.

Learn more at Ideas Runway