AMMAR AL MALIK

Dubai 2020 | IT & INNOVATION | INTERVIEW

By providing companies with the right infrastructure, regulations, and environment, DIC has nurtured some of the biggest names in the region and is preparing for its next batch of success stories.

Ammar Al Malik
BIOGRAPHY

Ammar Al Malik was appointed Executive Director of DIC and Dubai Outsource City in 2017. In his current role, he leads the business alignment to ensure the effective implementation of TECOM Group's overarching strategy to be a world-class developer and operator of business communities while delivering maximum value to shareholders. He is also responsible for overseeing the identification of new business opportunities and nurturing relationships with the business parks' existing partners. Al Malik holds an MBA from Kwansei Gakiun University in Japan.

What is the mission of DIC, and how has it grown in the last 20 years?
DIC was built in 1999 and turned 20 in October 2019. In two decades, DIC has helped transform Dubai into a regional internet and technology hub, attracting tech giants like Google, MasterCard, Microsoft and IBM, and nurturing home-grown start-ups like Careem and Souq. Our mission is to support Dubai as it builds a knowledge-based economy with technology at the heart of it. Through the ecosystem we have developed here, we are helping Dubai become one of the smartest cities in the world.

How have you built a strategy nimble enough to adapt to changes brought by disruptive technologies?
Our strategy has always been to a create a dynamic, flourishing community that enables business growth with state-of-the-art infrastructure, modern buildings, and our in5 Tech innovation center to support start-ups and entrepreneurs. We also look after regulations and red tape to improve the ease of doing business in DIC. We are focused on creating a vibrant ecosystem for technology companies of all sizes and for that we need to remain dynamic and ready to seize new opportunities.

How do you enable companies in the ecosystem to grow?
We enable companies to grow with the right infrastructure, regulations and environment. There are more than 1,600 tech companies employing 25,000 professionals in DIC, and we need to ensure our regulations meet their needs and improve ease of doing business for everyone from start-ups to tech giants. We simplify procedures by providing our business partners with online services to streamline operational requirements, such as visas or trade certificates. We have helped introduce a part-time student permit, which allows students in universities to work in outsourcing companies. It is also important to mention that du, the second communications company in the UAE, was established in DIC and developed to create an infrastructure network in the area. We also continually develop our strategy for building ecosystems. Some 20 years ago, our plan was to attract companies like Microsoft and IBM. It took 10 years to get most of them here, but we succeeded. Now, as an ecosystem, we are developing the next phase of homegrown companies, start-ups, and unicorns.

What are the challenges regarding human resources?
Dubai has always been a magnet for talent, offering an attractive lifestyle that makes it easy to start a business. It is cosmopolitan, and there is little red tape. However, this is not enough; companies need the best talent to be successful. All the big hubs around the world are fighting for the same talent, and in a way, the ecosystems drive each other. Nevertheless, it is not sustainable to only look for talent from abroad. In Dubai, we have an entrepreneurial spirit, and a recent law has been created to let universities allow students to get entrepreneurial licenses. This allows students to start businesses while they are in university and is a great step to encourage entrepreneurialism. Our business partners have a key role to play in training young staff and creating a talent base. We are proud to host them as Dubai enjoys the ripple effects of innovation.

What are some of DIC's biggest success stories?
We are extremely proud of many success stories, such as Careem and Souq. Our ecosystem is a hub not only for larger companies but start-ups as well. Many big tech start-up stories we hear in the region come from DIC—however, there are success stories from TECOM Group's other business parks too. At the end of 2018, there were over 1,600 companies and 33,500 business professionals in DIC. in5, a platform for start-ups and entrepreneurs, has the highest percentage of women, at 17% compared to other locations, with approximately 180 entrepreneurs and 82 new start-ups.