Dubai, Abu Dhabi, and Sharjah, three emirates of the UAE, rank among the top ten startup ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa, as per the Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER) 2024. Dubai achieved a perfect score of 10 in funding, reflecting its robust early-stage funding and investor activity, and boasts five unicorns, making it one of 19 ecosystems worldwide with four or more unicorns over the past decade. Abu Dhabi experienced the fastest growth among emerging ecosystems in the region, with a 28% increase in ecosystem value, while Sharjah climbed to 7th place in the rankings. Sharjah also secured top 15 positions in the Knowledge and Performance categories, attributed to its strategic location and a $1.5 billion annual investment in education.

Other notable ecosystems in the top 10 include Tel Aviv, Cairo, and Riyadh. Tel Aviv, the only Mena ecosystem in the Top 40, advanced to No 4 globally, tied with Los Angeles. The Israeli high-tech sector significantly contributes to the nation’s economy, accounting for 18% of GDP, 48% of exports, and 11% of the workforce. Cairo improved its ranking from the 51-60 range to 41-50, leading in terms of value for money for tech startups. Riyadh and Abu Dhabi also saw improvements, moving from the 61-70 and 81-90 ranges to 51-60 and 61-70, respectively.

Abu Dhabi ranks second in Mena for ecosystem performance, reflecting the value created from exits and funding. The growth of Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech ecosystem, has supported over 315 startups that have collectively raised $1.5 billion since its inception in 2019. Both Muscat and Sharjah have generated significant ecosystem value, with $313 million and $424 million, respectively, between July 2021 and December 2023.

Sheikha Bodour bint Sultan Al Qasimi, chairperson of Sheraa, highlighted Sharjah’s strategic focus on entrepreneurialism, which has led to its 4th place in the GCC and 7th in the Mena startup ecosystem. Sharjah excels in sectors like Cleantech, Digital & Creative Industries, and Edtech, supported by a high density of talent and resources. The emirate also ranks highly in various categories, including 5th in 'Bang for Buck', 6th in Funding, and 7th in Market Reach. Factors contributing to Sharjah’s success include its strategic location, significant investment in education, multiple Free Zones and industrial zones, and the Sharjah Investors Services Centre.

Najla Al Midfa, vice chairperson of Sheraa, emphasized the commitment to fostering entrepreneurship in Sharjah, aiming to enhance startup offerings and drive growth in key sectors such as sustainability, edtech, advanced manufacturing, and the creative industries.