2021 saw a decade-high number of deals for some of the world’s leading big tech companies. Purchase-power has been in full force as major players seize on opportunities to buy rather than build.
And for startups and small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE and the wider MENA region, this presents an encouraging opportunity to prime their product or service with the hopes of getting the attention of a big tech buy-up.
The question is: What exactly have the big techs been buying up, and how do you get your business off the shelf and into their shopping cart?
Let’s take a closer look at the spending habits of four tech giants.
In 2021, Microsoft made 56 publicly disclosed deals, and it has a track record of buying up cybersecurity startups, as exemplified by its acquisition of CloudKnox. Not just a response to the proliferation of cyberattacks due to the increased risk posed by remote working, enhanced security is also a profitable revenue stream.
For that reason, tech startups with a solution for specific cybersecurity problems are an attractive proposition – especially if they help to close the gaps on cloud-based security issues. Ranked fifth in the world on the Global Cybersecurity Index, the UAE is a world leader in the protection of citizens and residents, making it the ideal location for the development of marketable data security and privacy solutions.
Early in 2022, Microsoft grabbed the headlines with the high-profile acquisition of software giant Activision Blizzard for USD 69 billion. While this has all the signs of a big tech company looking to dominate the video game market, it also suggests a bid to capitalise on the rise in popularity of mobile gaming.
In the UAE, this segment is forecast to reach USD 164 million in 2022. With gaming on course to become the dominant form of entertainment this century, it seems an obvious, if highly competitive, market to get into if you’re a tech-savvy entrepreneur.
Global online retail behemoth Amazon got a lot of deals done in 2021 – 29 publicly disclosed acquisitions. With a net income of USD 33.36 billion in 2021, the e-commerce giant certainly has money to burn on the items in its diverse acquisition wish-list. But what kind of products and services have been finding their way into the Amazon basket over the last decade?
Back in 2017, Amazon made headlines with the purchase of Dubai-based online retail giant Souq.com for $580 million USD – which at the time was thought to be the biggest ever technology merger and acquisition (M&A) in the Arab world.
With Souq.com delivering to six Gulf states and Egypt, the acquisition helped Amazon gain faster inroads into those markets. At the same time, Amazon’s cutting-edge logistics and technical expertise were an ideal fit for a business targeting a young, tech-savvy generation – who at that point in time still preferred the shopping mall to online retail.
Amazon’s purchase history has also seen it take a slice of new markets, most notably with its acquisition of Whole Foods Market to expand online grocery services aimed at young, high-end shoppers. And in 2020, Amazon took the wheel of Zoox Inc – the self-driving car startup from California – hinting at a future of self-driving deliveries or a ride-hailing service.
It’s also been stocking up on entertainment products and services. You may recall its cash purchase of game-streaming platform Twitch in 2012, and more recently MGM – the historic US film studio.
For Dubai-based startups, Amazon’s strategic move into the region signals an opportunity to provide products and services that reflect and offer ways into the local market, and also space for innovative tech that fits with broader aims of e-commerce.
For a number of years now, Alphabet – the parent company of search giant Google – has been acquiring other people’s ideas and products, casting its net far and wide to haul in the best of emerging tech. Sometimes these deals appear to be off-the-wall.
Take the high-profile acquisition and resale of Motorola Mobility, for example. In reality, it was buying mobile technology patents to compete with Samsung in a bid to convince it to tone down its customizations of the Google-owned Android operating system.
Alphabet has a track record of buying up tech startups and SMEs, not necessarily because of their products, but for the brains behind these businesses. This enables the company to bring in the latest, freshest talent to work on its own products.
And like Microsoft, its recent buyouts seem to be cloud and security focused, most recently with the acquisition of Mandiant – a cloud cybersecurity specialist. This move signals increased competition with other cloud service providers, like Microsoft and Amazon, for the M&A of these types of cloud-focused technology companies.
Unsurprisingly, for the dominant force behind search, Alphabet M&A has also focused around big data, the most high profile example being its acquisition of business intelligence software Looker in 2019 to broaden its Google Cloud data analytics offering. But cast an eye over a list of its most recent publicly disclosed acquisitions, and you’ll see an A to Z of everything from tech wearables (such as FitBit and North) to learning apps (Socratic).
Meta – the parent company of the Facebook platform – has been making the headlines for a number of reasons over the past few years. Its high-profile acquisitions of Instagram and Whatsapp have led to an antitrust lawsuit, but it’s the company’s venture into the as-yet non-existent ‘metaverse’ which has sparked a frenzy of M&A activity, mostly around gaming and virtual reality. In fact, peruse its list of most recent acquisitions, and it’s dominated by startups and SMEs developing virtual reality games for use with its proprietary Oculus headset.
If you’re not in either of those niches, then fear not. The proposed ‘metaverse’ is a work in progress, which means there’s clear scope for innovative tech to take a lead in what is still an unknown virtual universe and untapped global market. Plus, back in the real world, there are developing use cases for VR to help solve some of the world’s problems. For example, the UAE is already deploying VR technology in a diverse range of contexts, from assisting with stroke rehabilitation to training urban planners.
Final Thoughts On Big Tech Acquisitions
Being bought by a big tech firm is an aspiration held by many startups and SMEs. But any business owner would be wise to focus on delivering their company’s core offering, rather than overly focusing on attracting the attention of the big techs to the detriment of their own product or service.
That’s not to say it might never happen – it could happen – especially if you’re developing cutting-edge tech that can easily solve a problem for a big tech company. A great example of this is Alphabet’s recent acquisition of Kustomer – a customer service startup – which will enable Facebook to offer extended services to business customers through omnichannel communications.
The bottom line is that whatever business you’re in, if you do it well, and you’re strategically based in a business-friendly environment, you’re going to get noticed one way or another – whether that’s by a big tech, or an ever-growing customer base.
Meydan Free Zone is a world-class hub for entrepreneurship and innovation in the UAE.
As the world opens up once more, entrepreneurs and start-ups have increasing flexibility and wider scope to find the right location and business infrastructure to nurture their entrepreneurial ventures. There’s a world of possibilities out there, from ‘digital nomad visas’ to remote free zones offering e-citizenships, and the promise of easier ways to do business.
With so many nations vying for the best global talent, it’s important for the region to stand out in a competitive market. That’s why the UAE’s Strategy for Talent Attraction and Retention sets out clear goals for attracting global talent to the region, making it a preferred destination for living and working. In addition, the UAE is ranked first in the region on the Global Innovation Index, confirming it as one of the world’s most innovative countries.
Alongside global competition for talent, businesses are also facing the challenge of bringing people back to the office, as new ways of working and technologies present more flexible opportunities for remote and hybrid working. This is creating a drive for further initiatives to attract entrepreneurs and employees alike back to the workplace.
Many cities around the globe can claim a variety of selling points to entice entrepreneurs to relocate there, but few can match Dubai in terms of innovation and wealth. Since 2020 Dubai has been ranked in the top five best cities for entrepreneurs – and with good reason. Alongside its advantageous geographic location and unparalleled access to multiple trade markets, it is of course a regional epicentre for trade, finance, and e-commerce.
Last year, the newly formed board of Dubai Chamber of Digital Economy announced that the board has adopted a new roadmap which aims to accelerate the growth of Dubai’s digital economy, doubling the number of digital companies operating in the emirate in the coming years. In addition, recent changes to the rules regarding foreign ownerships of business mean there is no longer a requirement for commercial companies to have a major Emirati shareholder – foreigners can now have 100% ownership of their business.
Alongside these advantages, Dubai is also tax-friendly, with corporate tax currently at 0%. Couple that with its extensive range of corporate services, which can handle all the necessary governmental formalities and paperwork, and the city becomes an attractive proposition for entrepreneurs and start-ups looking for a simpler, cost-effective way to launch or scale their business.
Whilst working remotely from a tropical island might seem appealing in theory, when you’re starting a business or looking to grow one, whether it’s digital or non-digital, the fact of the matter is you need the surrounding business infrastructure to make it work. Being able to tap into an existing and established entrepreneurial ecosystem can make the difference between success and failure.
Located in the heart of Dubai, Meydan Free Zone aims to give entrepreneurs and business owners credibility and a competitive edge. It offers an extensive range of business support services, a vibrant and world-class community, and unrivalled networking opportunities.
Meydan Free Zone is designed to make doing business easy, efficient, and cost-effective. As the only 24/7 fully digital free zone, it’s a truly paperless environment, with all trade licences and payments made through a secure customer portal.
Based in the luxurious Meydan Hotel, with views over the famous racecourse, it offers a premium, yet affordable, business address with enviable lifestyle opportunities on the doorstep. Surrounded by the wider Meydan community – which includes schools, clinics, restaurants, parks, houses, and apartments – it’s in a prime location where people can work, play, and live.
For creative minds establishing or expanding a business, Meydan Free Zone caters to over 3,500 business activities. Should an activity require third-party approval, there’s no need for business owners to seek all the relevant permissions – Meydan will do it for them. This is just one of a range of benefits to make set-up straightforward and cost-effective, from quick and simple incorporation to hassle-free company bank accounts.
There’s no need to wait to open a manual bank account – Meydan offers Meydan Pay – an instant IBAN which enables businesses to send and receive payments in the UAE straight away.
Most free zones offer a fixed visa and licence package, but in Meydan businesses only pay for what they require. The difference? Entrepreneurs can make huge savings because additional visas and upgrades are only added when needed – not upfront in advance. And through partnerships with leading banks, Meydan offers a simple payment plan.
Everything in the ecosystem is there to support and empower entrepreneurs and start-ups to succeed in a competitive market, such as 100% exclusion on corporate and personal tax and full repatriation benefits on profits and financial assets. There’s also a complete suite of business services on offer as part of Meydan Plus, including phone answering, and medical and Emirates ID assistance.
Meydan Free Zone has a joint vision: to make entrepreneurship accessible and inspire business growth; and to foster a vibrant and connected ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovators to create, grow, and lead. With this in mind, it’s easy to see the appeal of the Meydan Free Zone to foreign investment and talent – an enabling business environment coupled with luxurious lifestyle opportunities make it an ideal destination for the global entrepreneur.
With 100% foreign ownership and a guaranteed digital bank account, companies based in Meydan Free Zone are part of a thriving, centrally located economic community in a strategically positioned economic hub.
Meydan Free Zone is an economic-rich free zone in Dubai. Set in a strategic location near Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum City, with proximity to the Dubai Logistics Corridor, the free zone offers an end-to-end digital platform where its customers can benefit from incorporating licenses with 1,500 mixed-use business activities with an instant digital IBAN, visa applications, and other ancillary services, allowing companies to become a part of a thriving, strategically positioned economic hub. Meydan Free Zone is a wholesome community where customers are offered a safe place to live and call home, a world-class infrastructure from where they can work, and a community that can rejuvenate at play.
A VISION OF DUBAI’S FUTURE SUCCESSES
Meydan is the visionary concept of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President, Prime Minister, and Ruler of Dubai. Our mission is: To make entrepreneurship accessible and inspire business growth. To foster a vibrant and connected ecosystem for entrepreneurs and innovators to create, grow and lead.
Since its inaugural opening in 2010, Meydan has attracted worldwide attention. The Meydan Racecourse is the centerpiece of Meydan. It offers an entire season of exemplary horseracing, the highlight of which is the world’s most spectacular race day, the Dubai World Cup.
The Meydan Group’s broad portfolio extends far beyond the racecourse. Meydan real estate projects include villas, townhouses, and apartments, plus Emirates Airline housing that features 528 townhouses set amongst retail, lush green parks, and necessary amenities. So, what draws entrepreneurs to the Meydan Free Zone, and why should you consider basing your business here?
Meydan Free Zone’s outlook is all about building a future-forward strategy. The free zone is designed to empower any company operating here and give them all the tools they need to be successful. And this is why we offer a wide range of options for incorporating your business.
Eight Reasons to Choose the Meydan Free Zone
With its stunning glass and steel façade and location right next to the Meydan race track and golf course in central Dubai, the Meydan Free Zone offers an excellent base to impress customers, build your company and enjoy your leisure time. But it provides a lot more than just attractive aesthetics! Let’s look at eight of the most important business reasons to choose the Meydan Free Zone.
In this blog, you will learn about:
- Strategic Location Close to Airport, Seaport & Central City
- Designed For Ease of Expat Ownership
- A Vibrant, World-Class Community
- Award-Winning All-Inclusive Digital Platform
- A Paperless Experience
- Take and Make Payments with Ease
- E-Commerce Tools at your Fingertips
- Interest-free deferral plans for 12 months
Strategic Location Close to Airport, Seaport & Central City.
Located a short 15 minutes drive from the Dubai International Airport, Dubai Ports and 12 minutes from Dubai’s buzzing downtown. From the Dubai International Airport, there are 2.5 billion people living within a four-hour flight and 5 billion within an eight-hour flight or less. Dubai offers unparalleled access to the world’s largest emerging growth markets, including GCC countries, India, Pakistan, the Middle East, Central Asia, Africa and Europe.
Meydan Free Zone is centrally located for ease of access. You’re never far from the hustle and bustle of the city centre at Meydan Free Zone. This makes it incredibly easy for business owners to facilitate the import and export of goods or look for warehousing. In terms of access, the free zone itself resides within the iconic and beautiful Meydan Hotel, overlooking Meydan Golf Course and the horse racing track.
This makes for an impressive location to host both business and personal guests, and you will benefit from wonderful views and access to all the hotel’s amenities (restaurants and entertainment) for those deal-clinching meetings or a fun day out with family.
The Meydan Free Zone is Designed for Ease of Expat Ownership
Meydan Free Zone’s trade-friendly environment is designed to be as attractive as possible for the budding entrepreneur. You will benefit from the following:
- MOFA recognised business licenses with bank account opening.
- 100% foreign ownership
- Tax-free policies for both corporate and income tax.
- Low-cost setup starting from AED 12,500.
- 3,500 business activities to choose from
- Modern infrastructure with flexi-desk, dedicated offices and meeting rooms.
- No currency restrictions
For new businesses looking to establish or expand, Meydan Free Zone offers efficient, seamless, and cost-effective startup options. All businesses operate under a Limited Liability Company license issued by the free zone (LLC).
Meydan Free Zone provides a vibrant community where you can work, live and play. You will have endless opportunities to network with other businesses and innovative entrepreneurs and partner with other companies in your field.
A Vibrant, World-Class Community
Setting up your company in the Meydan Free Zone provides access to a unique community that inspires growth through innovation and collaboration. Meydan City boasts a sprawling freehold housing community, schools, a hospital, and recreational amenities.
Our location in the center of Dubai gives you direct access to everything you need to start and grow your business. The city is home to countless startups, SMEs, and multinationals from various industries and sectors. There is a dynamic mix of Private and Government companies working in Dubai and at Meydan which you can connect with.
Award-Winning All-Inclusive Digital Platform for Customers to Setup
Meydan Free Zone supports entrepreneurs in building a digital platform where you can perform all transactions with ease and speed. As part of our digital transformation, our award-winning platform is designed to eliminate all the ‘paperwork’ side of your business. You can log in to the portal from anywhere worldwide and access our services, select your requirements, and finally pay online.
You’ll have access to our innovative customer platform when you set up in the Meydan Free Zone. This is designed to ease operations and simplify the process of setting up your business. The platform combines all aspects of compliance and regulation for your businesses (such as UBO, ESR, and AML) in a single interface. You can choose from a wide range of licenses, immigration services, business support services, and a choice of workspaces to streamline the workflow seamlessly from right within the platform – and you can manage all your company’s records and business documents in a single place.
A Paperless Experience
We offer you a paperless experience when setting up and running your business in the Meydan Free Zone. Our smart and intuitive license application kit will significantly reduce time and effort during the application process. We’ve also developed a digital payment platform that provides an easy payment option. That means you can instantly access and pay for services at the click of a button – no complex and time-consuming bank transfers! Our digital platform lets you do things like:
- Complete all processes relating to establishing a new company
- Licensing applications and approval
- License renewal
- Apply for and store permits
Meydan Free Zone simplifies the entire business setup processes for companies. We aim to deliver accessibility through technology innovation and to create a paperless experience, all delivered through our purpose-built platform. Our customers value the ease of use of this technology and freedom from reliance on endless paper forms, stamps, and filing.
Start Taking and Making Payments – Fast
When you start your business at Meydan Free Zone, you get access to Meydan Pay — the first and only banking solution providing our new businesses with bank account opening solutions from local and international banks. You can start transacting in the UAE without waiting for lengthy due diligence and opening account procedures.
To access Meydan Pay, all you need to do is start your business at Meydan Free Zone, complete the sign-up procedure and receive your instant IBAN in 4 days from our banking partner – Commercial Bank of Dubai.
Get Everything you Need for Ecommerce
Our businesses get exclusive access to Meydan Commerce, our tailor-made solution for eCommerce companies.
Meydan Commerce gives you guaranteed product placement on Amazon, Noon, and other major eCommerce platforms of your choice. Starting from just AED 6,000, we’ll set up your eCommerce stores, optimise your product listings, and help manage order fulfillment, vendor management, and delivery.
Signing up for Meydan Commerce is easy. Once you have received your Meydan Free Zone business license, complete the short online application, and we’ll do the rest – giving you access to your eCommerce services in no time.
It is the simplest way to start your business at Meydan Free Zone, complete the sign-up procedure, and receive your IBAN immediately.
Easy 12 Months Payment Deferral Plans with No Interest Rate
Meydan Free Zone offers a wide range of license packages to meet the needs of businesses of all types and sizes.
You can get a trade license here for just AED 12,500, which will allow you to operate within three business activities. For AED 14,350, this package also includes one visa allocation. If you need greater scope, our AED 23,600 package includes an allocation for up to six visas, with more available on request.
Thanks to our close links with some of the region’s most prominent local and international banks, our license packages are available on 0% Easy Payment Plans, helping you reduce initial costs.
Set Up your Business in the Meydan Free Zone
The Meydan Free Zone offers a fantastic base for your entrepreneurial ambitions. With a great mixture of quality office space, location, smooth business setup, and an environment that encourages success, Meydan Free Zone brings together everything you need to start your company in Dubai.
If you’re ready to set up your Dubai business, choose the Meydan Free Zone. It is very straightforward to get started in the Meydan Free Zone. The location offers a smooth registration process, tailored packages, and assistance on hand to ensure all your specific business needs are met.
If you prefer, you can visit us at Meydan Free Zone Business Centre, Mezzanine Floor, Meydan Hotel, Meydan Rd, Nad Al Sheba 1, Dubai, UAE.
When starting a business in the UAE, entrepreneurs have two standard options.
Option One: you can establish your business anywhere in the mainland. This approach allows you to trade freely with the local market and take on government contracts.
Option Two: You can opt to start your business in UAE free zone. With this option, you cannot take on government work, and you must use the services of a local agent to trade with a local market. However, the many benefits afforded to free zone businesses more than make up for these minor inconveniences.
And when you start your free zone business at Meydan Free Zone, you can be up and running in no time. Our team are expert in business setup in Dubai and can help you with licensing visas and much more.
In this article, we’ll cover the many advantages of operating from a UAE free zone, including:
The benefits of starting a company in Meydan Free Zone
Let’s start with the many benefits of doing business in Dubai. For one, you’ll benefit from an incredibly strategic location at the heart of the Middle East – primed to trade with Europe, Asia, and Africa.
Additionally, the UAE has a 0% tax rate on personal incomes.
The additional benefits of the Meydan Free Zone company setup are as follows:
- Premier location
Being at one of the most sought-after centrally located commercial addresses in Dubai puts you minutes away from major pulse points and the city’s vital commercial and financial hubs. Meydan Free Zone is 8 minutes away from Downtown Dubai.
- Easy start up
Benefit from a smooth registration process with access to priority government relations assistance and broad support services tailored to your business needs, all from a click of a button on an award-winning digital platform.
- A great place to live and work
Take advantage of the unique opportunity to live, work & play in Meydan’s premium mixed-use developments offering innovative office spaces that encourage business growth, promote family living, and a bustling neighborhood with the latest attractions and malls.
Meydan Free Zone company setup costs
Meydan Free Zone is the only authority in UAE that offers Pay as you go business model where you can start offers a range of packages, from simple licensing options at AED 12,500 and then build your business up to those inclusive of the cost of visas, coworking space, business premises, utilities, and more. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Dubai recognises all our business licenses.
So, while setting up in a free zone is often the most affordable way to start a business in the UAE, the total cost of your package will depend on your requirements. For example, a solo entrepreneur operating under a single license will be less expensive than a large business requiring premises and multiple visas.
For a detailed and personalised breakdown of the costs involved in starting your business, get in touch with the team at Meydan Free Zone.
Steps to get a Meydan Free Zone company license
When you start your business with Meydan Free Zone, you get the benefit of our expertise so you can go into the company formation process with total confidence. Your dedicated account contact will guide you through the following company formation process.
We’ll start by helping you choose and register your company name. The UAE has a set of naming parameters to which you’ll need to stick. But don’t worry; all are straightforward and largely common sense. Essentially, you should avoid blasphemous and offensive language and the names of well-known organisations. We will also cover a few more rules in your initial consultation.
At this point, we’ll also help you align your chosen business activities to the approved list published by the UAE’s various Municipalities and Departments of Economic Development. It is important that you list every activity that you intend to undertake on your business license.
Now we can oversee your UAE Trade License application. As part of this process, you’ll be asked to provide details about your business and its shareholders and proof of address and identification. The application is completed on an online portal. Once your MOFA recognised license is issued, the next step would be your residency or investor visa.
We can help you with your visa application too. As well as submitting documentation, once your e-visa is issued, you will need to undergo a fitness test, blood test, and chest x-ray; the medical assistance team can help you with the appointments, along with a driver to help you with the whole process. Once your visa is approved, and you get your Emirates ID, You can also sponsor the visas of others, such as your dependent spouse, Children, parents, your spouse, and any domestic staff.
Finally, if you’re getting paid in the UAE, you’ll need a UAE business bank account. Meydan Free Zone can help with this step, too, advising on the right bank for your circumstances. They have partnered with multiple local and international banks. All Relationship Managers sit inside the free zone to help you with immediate assistance.
Take your business to new heights at Meydan Free Zone
Meydan Free Zone is a thriving, centrally located economic district with one of the most prestigious business addresses in the region.
We offer our businesses a host of innovative investment and lifestyle benefits in a secure, regulated environment that empowers productivity. And we can help you join them too.
Our expert team can assist the entire company formation journey, from registering your company name to managing your license and visa applications.