“Developing an angel investor pool in the Middle East will create more opportunities and will strengthen regional economic growth” said Ramesh Jagannathan, Managing Director of startAD when introducing his article for Arabian Business weekly dated March 16, 2019.
Financing the angel investment market in Africa, Asia, Europe and America is estimated to be worth $50bn
We live in an exciting age for entrepreneurs. Fuelled by governments in the Middle East, the desire of transforming to an entrepreneurial based economy and boosting investment into building a healthy start-up ecosystem is high-up on the agenda. While there are sufficient funds to fuel potential start-ups in the ecosystem, the risk averse nature of venture capital (VC) firms mean they tend to concentrate their investments in later stage start-ups with crisper valuations. In a mature ecosystem, less than 1 percent of start-ups receive VC funding, and in emerging markets, this number drops by a factor of two. As VC investments continue to move towards more mature start-ups, there is a widening void of funding for early stage start-ups. The effect is not as severe in mature ecosystems as in an emerging ecosystem for a number of reasons.
Angel investors have traditionally filled this void. For example, in the US, annual angel investments of $24bn are being made in over 64,000 start-ups. In fact, 74 percent of all Silicon Valley investments are from entrepreneurial angels, who were previously a founder or a CEO of their own start-up. The phenomenon of “founders funding founders” highlights the organic nature of the process, that they are “local” and have a deep understanding of the entrepreneurship ecosystem and play a vital role in building the ecosystem. This deep knowledge helps to mitigate some of the risks that come with ambiguous valuation of early stage start-ups. More than 60 percent of the angels become active mentors of the start-ups they have invested in and generally take a board seat. More than half of them have a technology background.
By 2030, 88 percent of the next billion people joining the middle class will primarily come from India and China
Having the “right” angel investor tends to de-risk the entrepreneurial process and increases the start-ups’ success rate in raising funds in future rounds. Angels generally see 11 percent of their portfolio producing positive returns.
On the other hand, in emerging ecosystems, there is a dearth of previously successful entrepreneurs, thereby creating a “catch 22” situation. The time scale of the process to build a sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem is made more acute by the fact that 67 percent of start-ups fail at some point in the process due to inability to raise a subsequent round of financing. The paradox is this: to have a healthy, sustainable entrepreneurial ecosystem, one needs a significant pool of high quality start-ups to cater to a large consumer middle-class and angel investors who have been successful entrepreneurs, preferably within the ecosystem. In other words, while having significant individual or group (eg syndicates) wealth is necessary, they are definitely not sufficient to build a robust ecosystem in an emerging economy, if the wealth is not “hard-wired” to local entrepreneurial experience. Ecosystems are organic in nature.
In India and China, this enigma has been resolved. While the pool of technology talent in these two countries has always been immense, due to the absence of middle-class, post WWII saw a significant “brain drain” from India and China to the US and Silicon Valley. The exodus of the “cream of the crop” from India, especially from the Indian Institutes of Technology (IITs), was unstoppable after the 1970s and from China since 1979, when the Chinese government started to send its best and brightest students and scholars to the US to catch up with western science and technology. By 1990, about 33 percent of all scientists and engineers in Silicon Valley were from India and China. Of these. 71 percent of these Chinese and 87 percent of these Indians arrived after 1970.
Going forward, by 2030, 88 percent of the next billion people joining the middle class will primarily come from India and China. We are now seeing a significant reverse “brain drain” of Indians and Chinese engineers, scientists and investors back to their homelands. About 80 percent of those returning hold graduate degrees in science, technology or business. China now boasts a sound angel investment culture, and while it’s still in its early stages in India it is gaining steam rapidly as the VC infrastructure is getting foundationally strong.
Turning our focus now to the UAE, and the GCC countries, the opportunity to “ride the wave” of India and China’s global tech dominance is crystal clear. But there are still gulfs to cross, such as the absence of a large, local technology talent pool. Without a disciplined and informed state-of-the-art process that dovetails to a VC infrastructure – by leveraging the local societal sensibilities and strategic inter-governmental alliances – the strength of access to large sums of local capital could quickly become our Achilles’ heel.
By all the ingredients for a master recipe to create a dominant UAE digital economy are in place and we need to diligently prepare, suit up and ride the long wave
Peter Thiel, co-founder of PayPal, discussed the role of governments in stimulating entrepreneurial ecosystems and compares the strengths of funding (supply side) versus founding based (demand) policies. Thiele recommended supply side policies as a mechanism to catalyse growth. However, in emerging economies, we could describe it as a “many body problem”.
We need to stimulate the process of accelerating the flow of global start-up talent into the ecosystem through the UAE.
Besides the government, this process should embed the local competency private sector stakeholders, such as in aviation, energy, transportation and logistics and finance industries. The Venture Launchpad programme at startAD is a classic example that shows significant promise.
Simultaneously, we should educate the regional angel investors about the mechanics and rigors of angel investment in digital start-ups and democratise access. The annual Angel Rising Symposium, now in its fifth year, brings the best minds from around the globe to discuss the best practises that are regionally relevant. The third piece of the puzzle is about building local capacity. StartAD and Khalifa Fund are partnering together to build the acceleration ramp to the global digital economic highway through programmes such as Ibtikari and Pitch@Palace.
All the ingredients for a master recipe to create a dominant UAE digital economy are in place and we need to diligently prepare, suit up and ride the long wave, leading the MENA region.
Migrant or expatriate workers continue adding to the labour force of oil-rich Gulf due to mega-construction projects, UN data shows. Al Jazeera posted this article dated 20 Dec 2018 elaborating on a situation known to all since the advent of oil.
Blue-collar migrant workers continue adding to the
labour force of the oil-rich Gulf, skewing long-standing efforts by its leaders
to increase the percentage of its own citizens in the workforce, data of the
UN’s International Labour Organization (ILO) shows.
Figures released this month in a 78-page study, ILO
Global Estimates on National Migrant Workers, showed that the proportion of
migrants in the eastern Arab region’s workforce ballooned by 5.2 percent from
2013 to 2017, mostly in the construction sector.
Migrants now make up 40.8 percent of the workforce
across a 12-nation region that includes the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) bloc of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain and Oman.
This is a much higher proportion than other rich
regions that attract some of the world’s estimated 164 million migrant workers.
In comparison, migrants make up only 20.6 percent of the labour force in North
America, and 17.8 percent in Europe.
In Dubai, Doha and other Gulf
boomtowns, foreigners make up as much as 90 percent of workers, according to
older figures. The ILO did not have data on separate countries for this month’s
report; Ryszard Cholewinski, the ILO’s Beirut-based expert on migrant
workers, said that figures provided by Gulf governments are often
The increase in labour flows to Gulf states these past five years was driven mainly by mega-construction projects, including pavilions for Expo 2020 Dubai and the FIFA World Cup 2022 stadiums being built across Qatar, said Cholewinski.
Demand has also grown for maids, gardeners, drivers
and other domestic staff, he added. In particular, more foreign carers are
being hired to look after a growing number of elderly folks in their homes, as
the Gulf population ages.
“The demand for male workers in the Arab
states explains the sharp increase in the share of migrant workers in this
region. Many of these workers are manual labourers, located mostly in the
construction sector,” Natalia Popova, an ILO labour economist, told Al
“Possible other reasons for the increase in
the high share of migrant workers may include the increasing demand for
domestic workers, both male and female, as well as for migrant workers in the
While data on nationalisation efforts is skewed due
to the sheer amount of blue-collar migrants, Gulf leaders have long sought to
boost the numbers of their working citizens, mainly in the white-collar workforce.
However, state-led hiring drives, with
such names as Qatarisation, Emiratisation and Saudisation, have had only
limited success, particularly in the private sector, according to the ILO.
“Many of these nationalisation policies are
not really having any impact. It’s one of the region’s big challenges,”
Cholewinski told Al Jazeera.
“There’s a lot of rhetoric on nationalisation in for example Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 agenda. But in practice, this is
going extremely slowly.”
Al Jazeera contacted the UN missions of all six
Gulf states by email and telephone over the course of several days, but was not
able to get a comment on this issue.
While each Gulf nation faces different challenges
when it comes to nationalisation, many Gulf citizens loathe taking jobs in
private companies, which cannot compete with the pension plans, generous holidays
and shorter working hours in the cushy jobs-for-life enjoyed by civil servants.
This can lead to odd distortions. A visitor to
Dubai, the UAE’s tourism hub, can spend their whole week-long vacation being
served by migrant workers in shops, taxis and eateries, and the only Emirati
they meet is a passport-stamping immigration clerk at the airport.
Last month, the UAE launched it’s so-called Citizen
Redistribution Policy to temporarily shift civil servants into private sector
jobs. It also rolled out training schemes for Emiratis and online recruitment
In recent months, Riyadh has introduced rules
requiring shops to have Saudis in at least 70 percent of sales jobs. Expat
workers pay monthly fees for their spouses and children, employers pay similar
penalties for foreign employees.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin
Salman’s ambitious Vision 2030 agenda aims to overhaul the Saudi economy by
massively expanding the healthcare, education, recreation and tourism sectors
and slash the high unemployment rates for young Saudis.
John Shenton, chairman of the Chartered Institute
of Building’s Novus initiative, which supports construction jobs in Dubai, told
Al Jazeera that Gulf nationalisation schemes were bearing fruit.
In some state-regulated sectors, such as banking,
legal and financial services, the number of local staff has grown, Shenton
said. “If the goal is to get more Emiratis in the workforce then it’s
having some effect,” said Shenton. “However there are other factors
that will mean that those efforts may not be reflected in the data.”
These gains are dwarfed by the mass-recruitment of
foreign construction workers to build the skyscrapers, malls and artificial
islands for which the region is famous, he added.
“At a site level, the chaps in safety boots
and hard hats will always be from the subcontinent or South Asia,” Shenton
“At the engineering and supervisory level, the
skill set required can’t be satisfied by the number of local graduates. The
volume of work being undertaken and the discreet programme dates associated
with projects like Qatar 2022 necessitate our hosts resourcing from
Melissa Roza, a headhunter at a Dubai-based
recruitment firm, said nationalisation schemes had made gains in some
white-collar jobs, but that state-set hiring quotas and penalty fees were also
hurting these sectors.
Banks in the UAE often prefer to pay fines for
hiring foreigners than to cover the recruitment costs involved in hiring an
Emirati, training them up and meeting their high salary expectations, she said.
Executives have also found workarounds by hiring
migrants via outsourcing firms, which do not affect the quota count, added
Roza, whose name was changed so she could talk frankly on a hot-button
What happens when the president of the world’s leading superpower makes inflammatory comments about immigrants and wins an election based largely on a racist and nationalist platform? As we’ve seen over the past two years, his followers feel emboldened and righteous in their discrimination against immigrants, despite their hopes, ambitions and rich personal histories.
Similarly in the UK, after the referendum to leave the EU, some voters felt free to vent their racist views. International students have also been feeling unwelcome due to high tuition fees, tight immigration laws and the introduction of charges to use the NHS.
This has profound implications for the higher education sector, where international students bring numerous social, cultural and financial benefits to their host institutions and country. In the US for example, in 2017-18, there were 1,094,792 international students who contributed US$39 billion to the economy, supporting 455,622 American jobs – equal to three jobs per seven international students.
Yet prejudice against international students is on the rise in the US and the UK. A recent US study found that this prejudice was predicted by support for Trump. Its author suggests that students who champion Trump’s vision of America might see international students through a racist lens, viewing them as unwelcome “others”.
A small study of just 389 home students, it can’t be used to generalise attitudes of all Trump supporters, but it can provide a window on what might be happening on university campuses across the the country where there are international students. And it serves as an important reminder for other countries, such as the UK, to consider how political debate can have an impact on international students.
Dealing with change
Regardless of the political context of the country they choose to study in, international students typically experience many changes, including moving to a new country and city with different educational, social care and health systems. They also face separation from family and friends and the need to make new friends and establish relationships with staff and the local community.
They encounter different cultures and languages, experience new expectations and realities and have to deal with issues such as housing, finances and health care. Most international students not only adapt well to these changes, they thrive. But for some, the challenges can have a negative impact on their well-being – particularly in places which are less than welcoming to international students.
There is a large body of research, including our own highlighting the fact that for international students, mixing with home students can be challenging – even without a political climate that discriminates against them as immigrants. We, and other researchers, have found that most visiting students don’t have much interaction with home students, which can explain why they are often perceived as “other”.
How well students are able to develop academic relationships and social friendships has an impact on their ability to cope with the complex demands of higher education. Some are more at risk in terms of isolation and stress, which can seriously affect their education and well-being. These consequences also come at a cost to the university and the wider community beyond, where positive experiences between different cultures can contribute to more tolerant, inclusive societies.
It is also important to remember that international students choose to go abroad to learn about other cultures, an experience that can also benefit home students. It can lead to a better understanding and appreciation of the world, an ability to think critically and consider different perspectives in their studies. When there is so much to gain, failure to integrate international students is a wasted opportunity for host communities and visiting students alike.
Role of university staff
Academic staff can be one of the most important support networks for international students. In their new environment – cut off from friends and family ties – they often see staff as the most familiar and trusted people, especially before they’ve had a chance to make new friends.
So how can universities encourage and nurture meaningful integration, especially in environments which can be hostile towards immigrants? Our studies have documented the positive impact of authentic group-work activities. By mixing up students’ normal groupings, teachers can influence the academic and social learning of both international and home students.
In the same way, using culturally relevant learning materials, such as books by authors from different countries, exploring topics like international human rights, and using case studies that include international contexts, can encourage students to share their own diverse range of perspectives in inclusive ways.
The responsibility of a university is not limited to just providing a good learning environment – it must provide a good social environment too. Our award-winning research into social transitions of international doctoral students in the UK found that participants wanted staff to see them as more than just students – to see them as human beings first. Mixing socially and sharing cultural events provides an enjoyable social setting for students and staff to get together, helps to break down stereotypes and enhances understanding of different cultures.
In a climate of rising intolerance across the world, it is more important than ever that universities step up and lead by example when it comes to being inclusive.
Global Compact for Migration: what is it and why are countries opposing it?
The Global Compact for Safe, Orderly and Regular Migration (GCM) sets out a common, comprehensive approach to international migration. It aims at cooperation between states and promotes measures to strengthen regular migration pathways, to tackle irregular migration, and to protect human rights of migrants among other objectives. It is expected to be endorsed by the UN member states in mid-December in an intergovernmental conference in Marrakesh.
But it is also subject to growing controversy – and the number of countries opposing the pact is increasing almost daily. The Dominican Republic is the latest country to join Australia, Austria, Bulgaria, Israel, Poland, the Czech Republic and Slovakia in refusing to sign the document that they negotiated for 18 months.
The GCM is creating heated political tension in other countries, too. In Belgium, the government was even in danger of collapse over it. Italy and Estonia will not attend the conference. Switzerland, which led the negotiations as a co-facilitator, won’t back the GCM in Marrakesh either, instead delaying the decision until a vote in parliament. The US quit negotiations early on, in December 2017, and was followed by Hungary seven months later.
So why have so many countries decided not to endorse the pact that they negotiated?
The GCM is a voluntary, non-binding document that introduces no additional obligations to states. It is a global agreement setting out a common framework, shared principles and best practices on international migration.
The final draft of the GCM was approved in July 2018 by all UN member states – except the US and Hungary – with the aim of becoming the first global framework on migration. As one of the interviewees in our ongoing research project on global migration stated, the GCM is “an aspirational document” but “it doesn’t impose and it fully respects the sovereignty of states”.
Many analysts have recognised that the final text is far from perfect. Yet most agree about the significance of the negotiation for multilateralism and global cooperation.
Several of our interviewees – high-level officials and decision makers in the field of migration – recognised that this was both the best and the worst moment to negotiate the GCM. The attention on migration in the past four years has created the conditions to start an unprecedented global negotiation, but within the most hostile environment possible. The risk of countries leaving the pact overshadowed the process from the beginning.
Not wanting to look welcoming
We can see four interrelated reasons that explain this growing opposition.
First, states with a restrictive migration agenda, such as Hungary, consider the symbolic act of approving the GCM as a sign that they are promoting migration. The regulation of migration is not only seen as a matter of laws, policies, and “border walls”, but also as a matter of communication. Some officials believe that if a country is perceived to be open towards immigration, it is providing incentives for migration, whereas harsh rhetoric is seen as a deterrent.
Such a perspective partly obscures the complexity and multifaceted reasons why people migrate. It is also unrealistic to believe that many would-be migrants closely follow the GCM process. But countries with a restrictive migration agenda don’t want to take any risks. Instead, their aim is to reaffirm their restrictive position by rejecting the GCM.
Second, while state officials are well aware that the GCM is non-binding, those that have rejected it fear it will turn into common practice, or even common law. In turn, advocates of the GCM have underlined that this is an inaccurate view. Its potential, though, lies somewhere in between. Some of our interviewees pointed out that, while not legally binding, it should be a politically guiding framework, which sets out ground rules for the long term.
Rights and the right-wing
Third, some states that have rejected the GCM are especially worried about human rights references within the document. In their view, an emphasis on human rights contradicts what matters for them: securing borders.
The Hungarian government argued that applying a human rights perspective to border control measures is “an extremely dangerous approach”. This position is based on a hyper-securitised view of immigration, in which migrants are seen predominantly as a threat. A framework that includes human rights of migrants, such as the GCM, is seen as incompatible with effective border control.
Fourth, hostility to the GCM mirrors the growing influence of new far-right movements, especially in countries where radical right parties are in power or are prominent. Ideas and myths about the GCM that circulated on extreme right social media sites, are said to have influenced Austria’s decision to withdraw.
In Italy, there was little discussion of the GCM until recently. But the extreme right, most notably the Fratelli d’Italia, ultimately managed to put the issue on the country’s political agenda.
There is a common denominator here: the rise of “sovereignism” as a political ideology. This is defined by anti-migrant nativism, and the rejection of multilateralism and international institutions. The GCM touches upon both of these core issues.
The question is not whether the GCM will be adopted, as a large majority of the 193 UN states still endorse it. Rather it is over the impact it is likely to have, given that its upcoming adoption has already been overshadowed by political statements that contradict the solidarity and multilateral approach to international migration it aims to promote.
It is no surprise that in this article (see below) of ConstructionWeekonline, there is no hint anywhere that Indians, Pakistanis most interested in UAE property investments make up the most significant percentage of the populations of the respective GCC countries.
Since the advent of oil, the Persian Gulf countries have generally turned into modern states through concurrent processes of development. Rapid population growth in the GCC states has been timed by 10 at least, in the space of few decades through primarily a natural growth in the influx of foreign workers and not through their indigenous population.
It must also be noted that the same countries planning ahead are believed to be somehow facilitating investments of non nationals in any segment of their economies, presumably to counter all those consequences of oil peaking shortly and away from the Gulf region.
Of the top five most active nationalities on Dubizzle Property, the highest interest in the UAE property market came from Indian nationals, accounting for 22% of visits to the platform in 9M 2018.
Indians and Pakistanis are most interested in UAE property investments, Dubizzle said [representational image].
o EThis data echoes figures from Dubai Land Department (DLD), where Indian nationals accounted for more than 4,600 investments worth AED 8.6 billion in the first nine months of this year, representing the largest property investment segment in the UAE.
Pakistanis came in second with 14% of visits to dubizzle Property, followed by Egyptians (6 per cent), Jordanians (4 per cent) and UK nationals (4%).
Egyptians and Jordanians are the top Arab nationalities looking to invest in the UAE property market, according to dubizzle Property.
The two nationalities accounted for 10 per cent of property seekers on the platform in the first three quarters of the year.
This is in line with the figures recently revealed by the Dubai Land Department (DLD) concerning Dubai real estate transactions during the same period, where Jordanians were identified as the highest Arab investors with 644 investments by 548 investors, worth over AED 1.2 billion. Egyptians recorded 719 transactions made by 623 investors, worth over AED 1 billion.
China, France, UAE, and KSA were among the top 20 most active users of the platform, which is also in line with the DLD’s list of top 10 investors by nationality that includes UAE, India, KSA, UK, Pakistan, China, Egypt, Jordan, and France.
“The current soft sales market has made the cost of property ownership more attractive versus the cost of rent, especially for those considering staying in Dubai for five years or more. Long-term expats are increasingly making the leap into ownership as declining prices are now making this investment possible,” commented Matthew Gregory, head of property sales at dubizzle Property.
Today no one ignores that in the MENA region, countries’ education systems amongst others are undergoing difficult times. Here is a UN’s report review confirming whilst shedding some light on the goings-on.
Migrant and refugee children to face incredible hardships attending schools and accessing education, a new United Nations report released on Tuesday has revealed, highlighting also structural weaknesses in national systems that can sometimes exclude children on the move.
According to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), factors such as non-certified schools, language different and limited resources are keeping refugee and migrant children away from learning and prospects for a better future.
“The right of these children to quality education, even if increasingly recognized on paper, is challenged daily in classrooms and schoolyards and denied outright by a few governments,” said the UN agency in a news release, announcing its new Global Education Monitoring Report.
Alongside this stark finding, the report did note some progress, especially in some of the largest refugee-hosting nations, in inclusion of refugee children in national education systems.
Champions include low income countries such as Chad, Ethiopia and Uganda, noted the report, adding that Canada and Ireland are leading in implementing inclusive education policies for immigrants.
Education ‘key to inclusion and cohesion’ – UNESCO Director-General
Audrey Azoulay, the Director-General or UNESCO, highlighted the importance of education to make communities stronger and more resilient.
Increased classroom diversity, while challenging for teachers, can also enhance respect for diversity and an opportunity to learn from others – UNESCO head Audrey Azoulay
“Everyone loses when the education of migrants and refugees is ignored. Education is the key to inclusion and cohesion. Increased classroom diversity, while challenging for teachers, can also enhance respect for diversity and an opportunity to learn from others.”
The 2019 edition of the report – which focuses on migration, displacement and education – also highlighted the need for additional resources for low- and middle-income countries, which host almost 90 per cent of refugees globally but lack funds to cope.
“Donors need to multiply their expenditure on refugee education by three and ensure long term support,” added UNESCO.
In addition, the report also called for better understanding and planning to meet the education needs of migrants and displaced people, as well as greater and accurate representation of migration and displacement histories in the curriculum to challenge prejudices.
Alongside, it also recommended that teachers of migrants and refugees be provided with better preparation to help address diversity and hardship.