The Entrepreneurs #07, 2023


Monocle meets the bright sparks, clever companies and business-minded folks making a mark in the UAE. Our first ever Entrepreneurs nation special eyes up the key opportunities.

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United Arab Emirates Special

Welcome to the UAE

Success takes graft and good ideas. But let’s face it: sometimes, it’s also about being in the right place at the right time. That’s how this UAE special, our first dedicated country issue of our business-minded magazine, got off the ground.

Inside Track

Although the car is still king here, the UAE is racing ahead when it comes to increasing mobility options around the country. Whether you opt for water, rail or tarmac, discovering the seven emirates has never been simpler.

Firm Favourites

Business in the UAE is booming but it’s not just tall towers shooting skyward, oil services or aviation. Here we profile a breadth of start-ups and smart ideas from AI and app development to design and film production – plus what’s brewing in the Arabian coffee scene.

Rising Stars

Where do we go from here? Monocle explores the possibilities for growth in the UAE, from the shopping boom to pioneering space travel.

The future of farming

A new crop of entrepreneurs is prepping the ground to grow food in the desert. Now the competition is hotting up.

Shifting Gear

An entrepreneur has found a way to retrofit gas guzzlers, turn taxi fleets electric and help his car-centric city hit its climate goals. The technology behind this could mean that the company’s final destination lies well beyond the UAE.

Time to deliver

Careem started life in mobility but quickly expanded into food deliveries, managing payments and more. The company prides itself on improving the lives of its users and its employees alike. Here’s how it became a Middle East success story.

Back on track

In no time at all, Dubai has built a smart public-transport system that is showing the other car-centric cities how it can be done. Jump onboard.

Up in the air

As president of Emirates airline, one of the UAE’s flag carriers, Tim Clark is at the centre of world aviation. He talks to us about the politics of flying, artificial intelligence and why passports should be a thing of the past.

Beyond business class

Three Lufthansa alumni hatched a plan to rethink high-end travel with new Dubai-based airline Beond. Ultra-long haul routes and Ferrari-designed seats are just a few of the reasons that they are already off to a flying start.

Movers and shakers

From redefining retail and simplifying fintech to connecting students with their ideal teachers, we meet six young entrepreneurs who have turned big ideas into emerging businesses with a wealth of real-world benefits.

New frontier

As the UAE looks to rapidly diversify its economy, advanced manufacturing is one surprising growth area. From plane parts to robotics, new technology start-ups are tapping into the Emirates’ entrepreneurial spirit.

Clean sweep

One company’s trash is another’s profit. After revolutionising waste management in the UAE, Beeah has once again set the standard for sustainability with one of Zaha Hadid’s final builds – an undulating, solar-powered, AI-controlled base.

Breaking new ground

As a still-young country, the UAE offers bold, enterprising entrepreneurs opportunities to carve out their own path, whether in logistics or property. We meet three business pioneers.

Lasting impressions

Expo 2020 Dubai showed the world that the UAE can host a global event and the site’s sustainability ambitions are now helping it to secure a future as a vibrant business and residential hub.

Bright ideas

There is no shortage of new niches to seek in the UAE. Fresh proposals for booming business across healthcare, retail and even laundry can fill gaps in the market. These are the for-now imaginary businesses that we would back

I wish I’d known

The UAE has a vibrant ecosystem that supports those with a bright idea. All it takes is tenacity, creativity and drive. Not sure about what to expect? We asked 20 business leaders for top tips to help those who are just starting out.

In on the action

In the desert outside the UAE’s capital, a vast film set is becoming a trusted shooting location for Hollywood, Bollywood and beyond. The Twofour54 complex is at the heart of a nascent movie industry, where government initiatives and eager young film-makers are combining to give the region its close-up.

Toon town

The UAE-made animated comedy series ‘Freej’ is the hit that proved that there’s an appetite for Arab cartoons outside the Middle East and it returns to screens next year. Now that it’s making a comeback, Lammtara Studio’s Mohammed Saeed Harib is keen to show that the country’s creative scene is anything but a caricature.

Culture club

Alserkal Avenue, a clutch of galleries and spaces in Dubai’s Al Quoz, has become a focal point for the region’s buzzing arts and culture scene. Meet the team behind the transformation.

Notice boards

Advertising is a billion-dollar business in the UAE. Despite social-media influencers and a growing online market, more than a fifth of the spend is still on good old-fashioned billboards. We report on this eye-catching industry.

Meet your makers

We meet the studios and artisans installing hand-sculpted furniture, creating art from desert sand and adding a dash of nostalgia to clients’ work and home spaces. From one-off ceramics to industrial design, these firms are anything but a soft touch.

What’s the big idea?

Meet the man pioneering sustainable neighbourhoods and dreaming up planet-friendly utopian cityscapes. Can his company, URB, break new ground?

Who we’d hire

Here’s our wish list of firms that we would commission to create the perfect HQ, home or hotel. Read on for the studios on the up, furniture firms to tap and developers with whom to develop a closer relationship. Let’s get going.

Sartorial start-ups

Fashion is about more than just good clothes; what we wear can be a statement of our ideals, heritage and taste. Monocle profiles three fashion companies putting big ideas into practice, from a shoe brand updating tribal classics to a clothing label embracing the UAE’s multiculturalism.

A nose for business

Wake up and smell the possibilities. Monocle meets the entrepreneurs and perfumers creating distinctive fragrances that look after our wellbeing and represent key elements of the uae’s history and heritage.

New waters

Despite its many kilometres of glorious coastline, the UAE’s beaches are becoming a more sophisticated draw and the battle for this prime waterfront is warming up.

Home stretch

Downtown Dubai’s breathtaking skyline might be awe-inspiring but, along with its neighbouring districts, it’s a highly liveable part of the city.

Capital investment

Quality of life is on the rise in the UAE’s first city. With blue-sky thinking from community-led businesses and blue-chip companies settling into shiny new offices, not to mention a world-beating cultural scene, Abu Dhabi has plenty to offer.

Life’s a beach

The districts spanning the Jumeirah Beach Road are some of the city’s most pleasant, where green space is ample, floor plans are generous and imaginative shopping and dining options are in plentiful supply.

Sand, sea and summits

Dazzling skyscrapers might grab your attention in the UAE but natural wonders abound – if you know where to look. Plant your flag here and a host of mountain activities, dune-nestled retreats and spectacular beaches are just a desert drive away.

Inside information

Now that you’re more familiar with all things UAE, you’ll want to know where to rest your head, sate your appetite, quench your thirst and pique your curiosity. We’ve got it all covered in the following directory of the country’s key addresses.

Partnership: Leading with AI

Additional information

Weight 601 g
Dimensions 30 × 24 × 2 cm


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