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WeWork stands in the Williamsburg neighbourhood in Brooklyn in New York City. Image Credit: AFP

Abu Dhabi: Hub71 on Monday officially launched WeWork x Hub 71, the first WeWork office space in Abu Dhabi, with the three-floor workspace located in the heart of the capital’s financial centre at Abu Dhabi Global Market.

The workspace’s first members already moved into the premises from last month, with the companies including start-ups, venture capitalist firms and technology accelerators.

With 740 locations in 140 cities across 37 countries, there are over 662,000 WeWork memberships worldwide, representing companies from start-ups to Fortune 500 global enterprises.

Along with the official opening, Hub71 also announced four new innovative start-ups joining their incentive programme including UAE-based fintech companies Sarwa and denarri cash, bringing the total number of start-ups at Hub71 to 39.

“I feel potential, I feel like there’s something new here and that really connects me to an energy that brings me right back to 10 years ago when we first started,” said Miguel McKelvey, one of the co-founders of WeWork.

“For me as a founder, as a start-up person, it would have been audacious from me 10 years ago to imagine that we could be here in Abu Dhabi; we thought we would be a global company for sure, but Abu Dhabi at the time was not on the map [for our plans],” he added.

“I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of something that I think is not only going to change Abu Dhabi, the economy and people’s potential in the future, but also a great example of the kind of transformation that needs to happen in many places around the world towards innovation,” he said.

Riad Thoumas, UAE general manager, WeWork, who acknowledged the company’s challenges in 2019, said the group was confident for 2020 and its plans in Abu Dhabi.

“Everyone knows the IPO did not happen, we had a tough few months, but I think and I believe that we have a very optimistic business plan.

“We’re still very much a growing company in a strategic and profitable way, and I believe now with the support of Softbank and the new leadership team we’re going to come out even stronger than before,” he added.

“This is our first operation [in Abu Dhabi], our 200 per cent focus is on Abu Dhabi, we need to make it happen, we need to come up very strong [and to] grow the community,” he said.

Ibrahim Ajami, head of ventures — Mubadala Capital and acting chief executive officer of Hub71, said WeWork’s troubles was not an issue of concern for Mubadala and its decision to partner with the company.

“Absolutely not... from a mubadala perspective we are investors in the Softbank vision fund and we work as one company as a part of that portfolio.

“Obviously WeWork had to go through its own reset… but from a Mubadala investment perspective the WeWork investment is one in that portfolio and Mubadala is committed to technology investments globally… and we will continue with our strategy,” he added.

Ajami also said that bringing WeWork to Hub71 was part of its strategy of growing its community of start-ups and innovators.

“The launch of the new WeWork x Hub71 is another positive proof point for Abu Dhabi’s tech and start-up ecosystem. Our mission is to provide entrepreneurs with community support and market access as they grow their businesses.

“The WeWork x Hub71 community is a fundamental part of our strategy to enable entrepreneurs with differentiated offerings,” he added.