UAE SMEs turning challenges into opportunities as the country braves the pandemic

Sep 18, 2020
3 min read
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UAE SMEs turning challenges into opportunities as the country braves the pandemic

Hit hard by the prolonged lockdown and changed consumer behaviors, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have turned their focus on adjusting to the fast-changing scenario to remain viable.

SMEs, which comprise 94% of all companies in the UAE, are going digital in a big way to keep their operations running and to tap into the ever-growing online consumer base. It is no secret that the functioning of all organizations has taken a 360° turn with virtual meetings, conferences, and remote work becoming the new normal. Many companies are relying heavily on cloud-based document collaboration apps and real-time workspaces for teams to manage operations and keep the business going.

Wes Schwalje, COO of Tahseen Consulting, was quoted saying, “With small businesses undergoing a rapid digital transformation, it’s important they adopt technological solutions to lessen the economic hardships presented by the COVID pandemic. Foraying into the digital landscape makes SMEs vulnerable to hackers. The focus on remote access security and virtual private networks in protecting critical and proprietary data is of paramount importance.” Some have already taken a step in this direction, as ZenHR, a cloud-based human resources management system, is offering companies safe and secure workplaces via its Geolocation Attendance Module.

eCommerce has also undergone many changes with extended lockdowns and increase in online shopping, forcing SMEs to explore digital marketing strategies to increase their customers virtually. UAE-licensed home businesses and SMEs are making use of eCommerce platforms like DubaiStore, which are offering them equal opportunities as the big eCommerce players, allowing them to increase their online market share.

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The challenging times have also opened up opportunities for SMEs and startups in health, wellbeing, agri-tech, in-home entertainment, cybersecurity, virtual reality, food, and online delivery. Companies like Allegion Middle East have unveiled a comprehensive portfolio of smart, secure, and touchless access solutions with a focus on multifamily properties, healthcare facilities, commercial offices, and education campuses.

Funding initiatives by private entities in Abu Dhabi and Dubai are injecting investment into the ecosystem to help new ventures remain viable and buoyant. For example, AstroLabs Founding Partner Louis Lebbos has committed over $60,000 each in grants to help former tech employees launch new startups in Dubai and Riyadh. Shorooq Partners is also welcoming aspiring entrepreneurs to guide them on their entrepreneurship vision while BECO Capital has funded $150,000 for “the next generation of MENA entrepreneurs.”

The stimulus package developed by the Dubai Government includes 15 initiatives focused on the commercial sector, retail, external trade, tourism, and the energy sector. Over the next three months, the package is expected to have both a direct and indirect positive impact on all other sectors as well.

Like the rest of the world, the SMEs in the Emirates are learning to live with the new reality by turning the unprecedented challenges into opportunities as they try to free themselves from COVID’s stranglehold. Exports News is also working to bring more information to guide you during these challenging times. Subscribe to our newsletter today and stay informed.

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