“The next generation of tech entrepreneurs will ditch San Francisco and London in favour of Dubai”, says leading tech investor

A leading tech entrepreneur and investor has today said the next generation of entrepreneurs will flock to Dubai instead of the traditional tech start-up hubs in Europe and North America. Dr David von Rosen-von Hoewel, founder of Lottoland, believes it’s only a matter of time before Dubai generates more unicorns than Silicon Valley or London.

Dr David von Rosen-von Hoewel, perhaps best known for founding Lottoland, argues Dubai has become the best place to found and grow a tech business thanks to the business-first environment created by a raft of government policies and initiatives, as well as its favourable geographical location.

Von Rosen founded Lottoland in 2013, a new-concept gaming and gambling service that has over 600 staff and 18 million customers around the world along with its sister companies. He also founded VONROSEN, the members-only, fully web-based fashion label that sold Apple’s Steve Jobs his iconic turtleneck sweaters.

Von Rosen has argued Dubai’s business-friendly tax and regulation system combined with a thriving ecosystem of investors and entrepreneurs has made the city the best place to found and grow a tech business. He says this is in stark contrast to the antiquated policy frameworks in Europe and North America and is naturally driving young tech entrepreneurs towards Dubai.

Dubai’s thriving business scene is exemplified by the news that the city was the first in the world for attracting Greenfield foreign direct investment (FDI) in both 2021 and 2022, according to the Financial Times.

Von Rosen also pointed to the high quality of life Dubai offers, citing the city’s thriving restaurant scene, year-round good weather, recreational possibilities, and the growing number of sports and entertainment events that take place in the Emirate.

The exodus of UK and European entrepreneurs to Dubai has already started. North America will soon follow suit if the current opportunity imbalance continues.

He adds that by creating an optimal start-up environment, the United Arab Emirates authorities have made the barrier to entry, and to profitability, for startups lower in Dubai than in any other major business hub. And that this is levelling the playing field by increasing the ability of start-ups to compete with existing industry leaders.

He believes international start-ups have often traditionally neglected the GCC region but expects this to change as the region’s population and economy continues to grow. As a strong advocate for the bootstrapping method of founding and growing a business, von Rosen says Dubai offers an ideal breeding ground for entrepreneurs due to lower barriers to profitability, meaning they’re less dependent on external funding and can prioritise organic growth while maintaining a controlling stake in their businesses.

David von Rosen-von Hoewel said: “The policies and initiatives implemented by Dubai’s authorities over the last five years, as well as the city’s geographical location between East and West, have made the city the best place in the world to start and grow a business, particularly in the tech sector. Dubai feels today how business hubs like San Francisco, Berlin, Singapore, and New York felt ten years ago.

“The city’s business-first tax and regulation system massively reduce costs for startups, making it far easier for businesses to reach profitability and secure their place in the industry. This is particularly attractive in the tech space where there is a high level of competition and the persistent issue of monopolies.

“With a lower barrier to profitability, tech startups, particularly software and web-based businesses, who already have reduced material costs, can feasibly become cash flow positive in Dubai today within a matter of weeks. This is a big win for the tech industry. It means founders aren’t dependent on external funding to scale, preventing counter-productive in-fighting between countless shareholders. And it reduces the number of overvalued VC-driven companies in the market.

“At the same time as these factors pull entrepreneurs in from European and North American markets, factors at home are pushing them away. The economies of the traditional business hubs are stagnant and their outdated policy frameworks are failing to keep up with the rate of innovation we’re seeing in the tech world.

“The combination of these push and pull factors mean the next generation of entrepreneurs will ditch the likes of San Francisco and London in favour of Dubai, and we’ll see more unicorns emerging out of Dubai and the region than both cities combined.”