UAE Opens World’s Largest Startup Exhibition


Expand North Star 2023 has attracted participation from over 1,800 startups representing more than 100 countries, along with the presence of over 1,000 investors collectively managing assets totalling over $1 trillion….reports Asian Lite News

H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, First Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance of the UAE, today opened Expand North Star 2023, the world’s largest exhibition and conference for startups organised by the Dubai World Trade Centre (DWTC). The event, being held from 15-18 October at the Dubai Harbour, is hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy (DCDE), one of three chambers operating under the umbrella of the Dubai Chamber.

Speaking on the occasion, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum said the organisation of Expand North Star 2023 reflects the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to transform Dubai into one of the world’s leading digital economies, bolster its competitiveness across the global market and boost the digital economy’s contribution to the emirate’s economy.

“We firmly believe in the potential of our national talent to fuel the growth of the digital economy and enhance Dubai’s position as a leading global hub for digital innovation, all while contributing to the development of innovative technology and AI-based solutions,” His Highness said.

“With the digital economy constituting a crucial pillar of the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), this event aligns with our commitment to create new economic value through digital transformation, with an anticipated annual value of AED100 billion. This endeavour consolidates Dubai’s standing as a global hub for the digital economy and a significant player in the global digital landscape,” HH Sheikh Maktoum further stated.

Expand North Star 2023 has attracted participation from over 1,800 startups representing more than 100 countries, along with the presence of over 1,000 investors collectively managing assets totalling over $1 trillion.

Flexibility and Diversity

Following the opening ceremony, H.H. Sheikh Maktoum bin Mohammed toured the exhibition’s pavilions, accompanied by His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy & Remote Work Applications and Chairman of DCDE; His Excellency Abdulaziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of Dubai Chambers; His Excellency Helal Al Marri, Director General of Dubai’s Department of Economy and Tourism; His Excellency Ahmed Bin Byat, Vice Chairman of DCDE; Saeed Al Gergawi, Vice President of DCDE; and Mohammad Ali Rashed Lootah, President and CEO of Dubai Chambers.

During his tour, His Highness was briefed by Saeed Al Gergawi on the exhibition’s role in supporting Dubai’s transformation into one of the world’s most flexible, diversified, and technology-driven digital hubs.

With 250 of the world’s leading digital experts participating as speakers at Expand North Star 2023, the event serves as a platform to facilitate connections between stakeholders in the government sector, investors, and accelerators, along with leading industry experts, innovators, and tech startups from around the globe. The event is also recognised as the primary choice for investors from 70 countries for deal-making, co-financing, and fundraising. This presents promising opportunities for ambitious digital startups to secure funding and expand their operations.

His Excellency Helal Al Marri said that Dubai’s unique development model is not only centred on the pursuit of leadership across various economic sectors but also on the aspiration to position Dubai as a driving force within the global economy. This entails creating opportunities for growth and development for businesses of all sizes and disciplines. “Startups have consistently been a focal point for our visionary leadership, as reflected in the D33 Agenda. This agenda places a strong emphasis on fostering a global business-friendly environment and sustainability, supported by an ideal business climate for investors and entrepreneurs. This framework, underpinned by robust infrastructure, professional expertise, and services, provides the emirate with a significant competitive advantage.”

Al Marri added: “Expand North Star 2023 mirrors Dubai’s strong commitment to supporting entrepreneurship and startups, in line with its aspirations to attain a leading global position in the digital economy. The event serves as a platform for forging new partnerships, paving the way for their success, starting from Dubai. Over the past years, the city has seen the emergence of numerous startups that have grown into billion-dollar companies, and the city is determined to further amplify this trend in the near future. Dubai aims to become the primary global launchpad and the preferred destination for promising entrepreneurs.”

His Excellency emphasised that Emirati entrepreneurs will have a significant presence at the event, featuring various activities, an exhibition area, and dedicated pavilions.

Competitive Edge

Saeed Al Gergawi said: “Expand North Star 2023 reflects DCDE’s commitment to enabling ambitious startups to access the tools they need to thrive in the emirate. It also supports Dubai’s transformation into one of the world’s leading digital economies in line with the Dubai Economic Agenda (D33), which aims to transform 30 startups into unicorns by 2033.”

Al Gergawi noted that this year’s exhibition builds on the sell-out success of last year’s North Star Dubai, which led to the launch of around 150 startups in the UAE as a result of deals signed during the exhibition.

Unique Insights

Expand North Star 2023 will host the CTO World Congress, offering unique insights into the minds of the world’s best tech architects and data scientists, as well as AI Monday, showcasing over 400 fast-scaling AI startups.

New Initiatives

Furthermore, a host of new initiatives are set to be launched at the event, including India Central, the biggest showcase of the Indian tech startup ecosystem featuring the participation of around 300 companies, as well as both Asia Fast 100 and Africa Fast 100, the largest showcase for the Asian and African startup communities bringing together 100 leading startups from each continent for a packed day of conferences, networking, and dedicated pitch competitions.

Emaratipreneur Inc., a community-driven networking and development platform designed exclusively for Emirati entrepreneurs, innovators, and investors, will feature a first-of-its-kind exhibition area for talented young innovators and startups, together with the Emaratipreneur Majlis, where panel and group discussions will shed light on creating the next generation of startup superstars, unicorns, and globally renowned entrepreneurs from the UAE’s youth ecosystem.

Other key events during the exhibition include the Supernova Challenge; a prestigious pitch competition that offers a prize fund of $200,000; Fintech Surge, which connects fintech companies and startups with financial institutions, investors, regulators, corporates, and SMEs across the MENA region; Future Blockchain Summit, the MENA region’s most immersive large-scale blockchain event; and Marketing Mania, the largest marketing and creative technology trade show in the MENA region, gathering the most prolific, imaginative, and disruptive tech forces.

Fostering a Conducive Business Environment

The DCDE pavilion at the Expand North Star 2023 will also be showcasing a number of leading initiatives aiming to boost the digital economy’s contribution to Dubai’s overall economy. These include ‘Business in Dubai’ platform, which aims to foster a conducive business environment in the city by streamlining a range of operations for companies seeking to launch or expand their activities in the emirate. The platform currently has 11 strategic partners providing services.

Other key initiatives include The Startup Guide, a comprehensive guide for digital startups, aimed at simplifying the process of setting up a business in Dubai, and Launchpad Dubai, which provides global technology companies outside Dubai – including startups, fast-growing startups, and unicorns – with the opportunity to set up in Dubai through a single platform offering services such as visa, banking, housing, and employment services.

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