AHK Start-Up Desk

© Xavier Arnau

The global startup ecosystem has established itself as a crucial element for technological development and job creation as well as an innovation engine for many countries. In just 7 years the number of ecosystems creating “unicorns” grew from 4 to 84 (Startup Genome).  A fierce competition for talents, ideas and innovation is driving cities, countries and regions to create startup ecosystems with new value propositions for young founders and tech enthusiasts. Particularly in a post COVID19 era this trend will intensify and play a crucial role for a sustainable economic recovery of many countries.

The UAE with its excellent infrastructure, safe-haven status, business-friendly economy has ranked 21st on the World Bank’s Ease of Doing Business 2018 report and among top of Arab countries for the fifth year in a row.

Besides the existing 45 free zones of the UAE that provide ease of doing businesses, the cabinet has also announced to allow 100% foreign ownership within companies, null corporate taxes, no import & export duties and 100% repatriation of revenues and profits. In 2019, the UAE cancelled over 1,500 government service feed by as much as 50% and granting long term residency permits to tech startup entrepreneurs. Start-ups have a choice to join more than 17 accelerator programs, 12 incubators and many co-working spaces.

In 2020, close to $1.03 billion were invested into MENA-based startups. This is a 13% increase from the previous year and the UAE securing a 56% share of all capital deployed regionally; making the UAE as one of the top hubs for start-ups. Accordingly, the AHK UAE identified a need gap of building the bridges and bringing in innovative ways of collaboration, strategic alliances, bilateral trade and knowledge transfer, decided to launch its “AHK Startup Desk” in June 2021.

The “AHK Start-Up Desk” is aligned with the core services and responsibilities of AHK of supporting German companies in establishing and expanding their business relationships abroad and vice versa. In this context the German Emirati Joint Chamber for Industry and Commerce (AHK) plays a key role for connecting ecosystems and enhancing the potential of participating locations as relevant and attractive destinations for the global talent and startup community. In particular, new strategic partnerships and R&D alliances between UAE/GCC and Germany are created using AHK as an “enabling factor” and boosting the knowledge, technology and innovations transfer and exchange between the countries. The “AHK Startup Desk” is supported by experienced and talented Steering committee, with different backgrounds and expertise.


Further Entities dedicated to Innovation and Entrepreneurship in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah


Hub71 business incubator

Hub71 collaborates with major business stakeholders such as Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), Mubadala Investment Company and other key business players to foster the next generation of tech innovators and startups in Abu Dhabi. Hub71 offers incentive monetary programs.

The Catalyst by Masdar

Based in Masdar City Free Zone, the Catalyst will help startups accelerate their business through funding, training and mentorship. It targets eco-friendly business ideas that are 1-3 years away from commercialization, and accelerates them through a holistic program, which provides entrepreneurs a range of services and support needed to run a business with focus on sustainability.

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Business Award celebrates organizations with outstanding practices that contribute to the sustainable economic development of the UAE and GCC

Museum of the Future

The Museum of the Future aims to be a destination for scientists, experts, innovators and creatives from all over the world, and an exploration base of the greatest challenges and technologies that will shape the future of humanity

One Million Arab Coders Initiative

The “One Million Arab Coders” initiative aims to empower Arab youth with essential digital and programming skills and tools required for the employment of the future.

Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Water Award encourages companies, research centers, institutions, inventors and innovators from around the world to develop sustainable solutions to water scarcity in poor and disaster-stricken regions


Sharjah Entrepreneurship Center "Sheraa" is where Sharjah’s entrepreneurs and small and medium-sized businesses come to innovate and grow, it is a government-supported startup studio, taking entrepreneurs from concept to company, idea to impact, in 6 months. (Sharjah Startup Studio S3)