In 1999, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum founded Dubai Internet City (DIC), a technology business community that aims to help innovators and entrepreneurs bring their visions to reality.
In 2007, Dubai Outsource City (DOC), a business park dedicated to regional and international outsourcing companies, also launched in the emirate. Since these entities were established, they've both created an environment where young talent from around the world can thrive and succeed.
In an interview with StepFeed, Ammar Al Malik, Managing Director of DIC and DOC , told us more about the support and services the two business centers have been offering startups in the region.
On the early beginnings of Dubai's Internet City
Speaking to StepFeed, Al Malik told us more about the vision behind Dubai Internet City and how it all started.
"We have been committed to developing smart, integrated cities. At DIC, we regard transforming Dubai's Innovation Strategy into reality as our mandate and position Dubai as an anchor of technology hub," he said.
He explained how over the past few years, the entity successfully "developed a thriving hub for technology organizations and is presently home to several Fortune 500-listed companies in software, hardware, internet services and ICT, in addition to global multinationals, local small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and startups."
The business park is currently home to technology giants and innovation centers like Oracle, Canon, Dell, and Microsoft.
It is also home to several startups including Anghami, ride-hailing app Careem, and FinTech firm Atcash.
Last year, DIC launched another Innovation Hub "to attract more companies and support new ones to grow." It also gives businesses housed in the hub the opportunity to network, share knowledge and access competitions throughout the year.
It will also "create more jobs in the fields of IoT, AI and blockchain and will be a home to both SMEs and multinationals," Al Malik said.
On what it means to head an entity like DIC
When asked about why he joined DIC and what his role entails, Al Malik said:
"My role as the Managing Director of DIC includes overlooking the development of the community and our overall goal is to ensure that DIC becomes the region's largest technology hub. We want to further explore opportunities and forge partnerships that will attract talent and entrepreneurs to DIC. We take the holistic view and want to ensure that we aid Dubai and the government's initiatives to become the smartest city in the world and the ultimate technology hub through our community."
As for what Al Malik considers the most rewarding aspect of his job, it's witnessing and being part of DIC's growth process.
"My journey has been extremely rewarding so far as I have witnessed DIC grow by leap and bounds. It is even more rewarding to watch young, talented entrepreneurs craft innovative ideas and then bring them to life at DIC – it makes us proud as a community to see them grow into successful businesses," he explained.
On DIC's unique services
DIC provides an incredible amount of services to both regional and global businesses and startups. When asked to share more about them, Al Malik said:
"Our proposition is to offer an ideal environment for technology and young talent to thrive, and in turn attract more businesses to Dubai, whilst strengthening our ecosystem and fostering a culture of innovation."
In 2013, DIC launched in5 - an incubator for entrepreneurs - giving startups in the technology sector the chance to meet industry leaders and creative minds in the field.
On the business park's collaborations
DIC's success is evident when one looks at the number of companies and startups joining the business park. Al Malik told StepFeed that currently, DIC has 1,600 registered business partners.
These include top companies such as SAP, Oracle, Canon, Dell, Microsoft, IBM, Samsung, Accenture, Kaspersky, BlackBerry and Huawei.
"The community is home to a 24,000-strong workforce, and is the testament to Dubai's vision of becoming one of the smartest, and most innovative cities in the world," he said.
When asked what makes DIC attractive to big tech companies, the executive explained:
"The business park helps to facilitate growth, and businesses can access a rich and diverse ecosystem of knowledge workers, nimble service providers, and expertise from all over the world," he said.
"In addition, complemented by Dubai Outsource City’s offering, TECOM Group’s Technology ecosystem is set up to allow companies to stay close to their key operations, thereby strengthening important ties between innovation and execution and allowing SME’s and entrepreneurs to scale up their operations as needed. Lastly, technology giants housed in DIC have the benefit to collaborate and work in synergy with other business parks including Dubai Media City, Dubai Science Park, Dubai Knowledge Park and so on," he added.
On believing in startups
Al Malik also told us about DIC's endless support to SME's and startups. The entity has always offered the best services for such enterprises.
"Dubai Internet City’s, in5 specialized Innovation Center is embedded in our community, providing state of the art facilities through its creative spaces, prototyping labs, training and mentorship programs as well as community-wide networking events and access to investors to SMEs and startups," he said.
"in5 has created within Dubai a well-rounded ecosystem for entrepreneurs and startups to be incubated and nurtured to their next phase of growth, including state of the art facilities that allow for prototyping and bringing new products to market," he added.
DIC's managing director also explained "Gofreelance permit" is an initiative aimed at enabling freelance talent in Dubai to work in the technology sector.
"With this permit, freelancers can gain access to numerous services and facilities offered by our business park. Freelancers now have the flexibility to choose the company they work with, the projects they work on, and manage their own schedule. This will not only benefit freelancers, but also entrepreneurs by giving them a potential talent pool to hire and leveraging diverse skills. Under TECOM Group's unique student visa scheme, companies can take advantage of fresh talent to support them through internships or part-time working arrangements," he stated.