SME ecosystem in the region

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Startup ecosystem in the region

Startup ecosystem in the region

More and more people are taking the leap towards becoming an entrepreneur and creating a start-up and it’s important to ensure the right eco-system is in place to support these new companies. Dubai has played a key role in the start-up ecosystem providing local and international entrepreneurs access to the region.  

This #WebinarWednesdays is in collaboration with Nasdaq Dubai where Raja Al Mazrouei, EVP of DIFC FinTech Hive and Tahir Mahmood, Head of Business Development at Nasdaq Dubai, will provide an overview of the start-up ecosystem in Dubai and the region, and cover key aspects in making a start-up successful, funding opportunities, and the challenges 2020 has brought. The session discussion also includes:

  • An overview of the global start-up picture
  • How the landscape changed in the region, specifically in Dubai as a leader in attracting entrepreneurs
  • Challenges startups have faced and advice to entrepreneurs just starting their journey
  • How the DIFC Innovation license makes it easier for startups to establish from the DIFC
  • Success stories of regional startups


Raja Al Mazrouei, Executive Vice President, DIFC FinTech Hive: Raja Al Mazrouei is a visionary and influential figure within the finance and technology sectors. Her entrepreneurial spirit and passion for progression has been the driving force behind her achievements, and continue to fuel her ambition to help reinforce the UAE’s position on the global stage. With over a decade of experience in the financial services sector, Raja has been able to develop an ecosystem for financial technology entrepreneurs in Dubai that has been a primary contributor in the emirate being named a top ten global FinTech hub. Her expertise in Marketing & Communications has enabled her to bring brands to life and foster communities in order to create business opportunities and societal impact. Throughout her career, Raja has held senior positions within the IT, Operations and Marketing teams at Dubai Holding, the National Bonds Corporation and the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) Authority. Her time working with these organisations has exposed her to cultures, systems and practices that have shaped her ethos as a leader and a pioneer in her field. Today, Raja stands at the helm of one of the region’s most successful financial technology hubs and has contributed significantly towards building a vibrant and dynamic community of over 200 FinTech, RegTech and InsurTech firms operating in the DIFC. As Executive Vice President of FinTech Hive, she brings together leading financial institutions, government entities, technology partners and entrepreneurs to realise a common goal in driving forward the UAE’s national innovation agenda and shaping the future of financial services. The rapid growth of the FinTech Hive under Raja’s leadership has been recognised on a global scale, with it being ranked one of the world’s best financial innovation labs. In addition, she has been named one of the top 100 Women in FinTech by Innovate Finance, the 50 Most Influential Women in Middle East Finance by Dow Jones’ Financial News, and the top 100 Power Businesswomen in The Middle East by Forbes. Raja is an executive graduate of the Harvard Business School (HBS), serves as a member of the HBS MENA and Central Asia Advisory Board and is Vice President of the HBS Club for the GCC. In addition, she holds positions on the boards of Dubai FinTech Ventures and Al Masraf Arab Bank for Investment & Foreign Trade.

Tahir Mahmood, Head of Business Development, Nasdaq Dubai: Tahir Mahmood heads the Business Development department of Nasdaq Dubai, overseeing all products offered by the exchange. His role revolves around creating and maintaining relationships with key stakeholders such as issuers, regulators, lawyers and bankers, to help the exchange grow. Tahir works with the team to bring new listings to the exchange, as well as offer new products to the market. Tahir has had a key role in making Dubai the leading Sukuk listing venue globally by coordinating with issuers, regulators, lawyers and bankers. Tahir joined Nasdaq Dubai in July 2013 and has spent most of his previous career working within the Islamic finance arena in London, Bahrain, Qatar and now Dubai. He has assisted commodity brokerage houses to establish operations in both London and Bahrain, specializing in Sharia’a-compliant commodity based financial products. More recently, Tahir oversaw the Islamic finance division of the Bahrain Financial Exchange as well as helped to market all of the exchange’s products. Tahir holds a B.Sc in Business Computing from City University, London.