Besides my official label as a transport professional, I am a passionate entrepreneur - and have been looking more broadly at the entrepreneurial environment in Dubai since I arrived. Both to start my own, but also from a more holistic perspective; what is the overall habitat here like ?
There seems to be a number of good initiatives out there from official side; Mohammed bin Rashid Establishment for SME Development, Mohammed bin Rashid Foundation, Entrepreneur Business Village just to mention a few, as well as the efforts to improve and digitize the DED registration process. Add to that the Free Zones (also in Sharjah and Fujairah), Academic City and Knowledge Village, the myriad of companies offering start-up support para-legal services etc - and you should have a fertile ground for entrepreneurship.
However, I have not yet been able to identify a really qualitative network for entrepreneurs (Internations, for example, has a core audience of expats, not entrepreneurs); nor can I trace a VC environment of significance, a la Silicon Valley or some clusters around Europe. And many of the initiatives - both the official ones above and others I have seen - seem to be only half-hearted or simply only make it halfway through to creating a real environment for growth entrepreneurs.
I am sure, though, that I am only scratching the surface - and as it seems that quite a few of the Internations members are entrepreneurs themselves, I would like to hear your comments. What am I missing ? Who should I get in touch with ? Where are the interesting places to go and feel the passion, meet the entrepreneurs and get my hands dirty. Any networks with a specific focus on entrepreneurship ?