All Abroad

Survey: 86% of Emirati firms have global ambitions

The first choice for foreign expansion among UAE business owners was Europe, according to an HSBC study of multimillionaire entrepreneurs.

The WeWork offices at Abu Dhabi's Hub71 startup accelerator. (Photo: Hub71)

The WeWork offices at Abu Dhabi's Hub71 startup accelerator. (Photo: Hub71)

Emirati business owners are setting their sights beyond the Middle East and focusing overseas. In an HSBC study of multimillionaire entrepreneurs, the UAE ranked second after Hong Kong in ambition to expand internationally, with 86% of Emirati firms looking abroad.

First choice for foreign expansion among UAE business owners with assets of between $2 million and $20 million was Europe, the favored site for 55% of those surveyed. Next was the Middle East with 42%, North America at 32% and Asia at 23%.

“It is no surprise that entrepreneurs and family business owners based in the UAE have a global outlook,” Farzad Billimoria, HSBC’s Head of Global Private Banking for the Middle East, said in the bank’s report on the survey. “The country’s strategic location, pro-entrepreneurial policies, advanced infrastructure and market access encourages global outreach and expansion.”

Key factors in looking abroad for business were access to direct investments, real estate opportunities and operational efficiencies, the survey found. HSBC polled nearly 1,000 entrepreneurs across nine markets for the study, including the UAE, the U.S., the UK, India, Hong Kong and mainland China.

The subject of foreign expansion is bound to generate interest at next month’s Abu Dhabi Family Office Summit, one of the largest meetings in the Middle East of family businesses and investors, which starts March 1.

In Abu Dhabi, meanwhile, the emirate’s Competitiveness Office and Hub71 startup accelerator launched the Abu Dhabi Regulatory Sandbox Program on Monday, aimed at helping firms in healthtech, mobility, and agritech learn to innovate within the scope of government regulations.

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