PROGRESS CODIFIED

Dubai 2020 | OPPORTUNITY | INTERVIEW

The Corporate Group is interfacing with many of the most advanced countries in the world to spur the creation of a new kind of economic ecosystem in the Emirate.

Ayman Al Awadhi
BIOGRAPHY

Ayman Al Awadhi is the co-founder and Group Managing Director of The Corporate Group. He is in charge of subsidiaries responsible for delivering one-stop shop professional services related to business setup solutions and enabling both FDIs and foreign companies to do business in the UAE and region. He has attracted businesses across all sizes and industries, including education, healthcare, technology, energy, and professional services. Some of these are listed in global stock markets, while others are start-ups offering disruptive technologies and ideas. His experience also includes advising companies for corporate structuring and mergers and acquisitions and developing operational frameworks that deliver unique customer engagement with clients, stakeholders, and the public and private sectors. He holds a BA from the University of Colorado.

How would you assess business prospects in Dubai?
The market is picking up, albeit slowly. There are more prospects on the way, and Expo 2020 should add another boost. The expo's infrastructure will attract numerous industries and SMEs to participate in building country pavilions and museum projects across the region. 2020 and 2021 will be the time to engage in these projects, specifically supply chain ones. The oil price has been picking up, which is another positive sign. There is still, however, some fears of another drop. Nonetheless, we will see confidence returning to the market with the recent price stabilization. We are linked to the global market, and there is little to nothing that we can do to control it. We can only understand what is going on and adapt to certain trends and policies to boost our economic state and potential, but we remain positive.

Which sectors are exhibiting the most growth and potential?
Looking at the nature of the FDI that we attracted, there have been many inquiries and initial set ups regarding IoT and AI. I returned from South Korea, where there were numerous discussions among startups in the fields of AI solutions, IoT, and smart cities. Most of the companies see the need for such discussions. They keep a close eye on the GCC and more specifically the UAE, looking for the right moment to penetrate the market and establish their footprint. We are helping them bridge the gap to bring those solutions for key players and startups seeking to expand in the global market. The UAE, like Tokyo, is a testing ground for simulations of AI and other intelligent robotic solutions.

How is increasing digitalization affecting business operations in Dubai?
Such developments will be subject to the development of regulations. Many current business activities need to further unpack these technologies and the possible approval processes. We will be more engaged in the future as we bring more of these businesses and new technologies to the region; more governance is definitely required. The country is new to this, so I can see the culture and life cycle. During my visit to South Korea, I witnessed the lifestyle and engagement with AI, IoT, and smart things. This is because of their adaptation, which has undergone certain regulatory conditions over the years. Similarly, regulations need to be introduced in the UAE so that these new digital practices can become a part of everyday life, be it personal or in business engagement. I made another similar trip to Slush in Helsinki, organized by the Ministry of Economy of the UAE, where 40 delegate members, including inventors, startups, and other groups from the public and private sectors gathered to discuss future technologies. One highlight from that trip was Finland, which is highly advanced in terms of technology and the startup ecosystem. We even visited Marina 01, an inspiring project that converted a 200-year-old hospital into a total ecosystem to provide assistance and support to startups. Globally, The Corporate Group is linking with the most advanced countries to build classrooms for startups as part of an entire ecosystem. We want to attract such parties to come to the UAE to see how we can incubate them, allowing for commercial growth in the UAE.