Traffic on the roads and highways have come down in the new normal, however, IT networks, which are highways of information, are choked up with all the unprecedented traffic. Businesses no longer operate the way they used to, in the pre-COVID-19 days. While there are challenges, there are opportunities aplenty for them to tap into the emerging ventures that are defining the new normal. However, with societies, businesses and economies on the path of rapid digital transformation and transition to a knowledge economy, the challenge is how to tap into these potential entrepreneurial opportunities.
Where and what are the emerging scenarios? In the new normal, while certain industries have declined, some of them remain in the same shape and will have to continue operating in the same settings as previously. Many new kinds of firms have emerged, while existing ones are getting transformed and shaped up for the digital economy.
Growth and business continuity in 2021 and beyond would depend much on successful efforts to mitigate the effects COVID-19 pandemic; facilitating digital transformation and pushing for adequate lifestyle modifications for a knowledge & green economy. The new normal, which is digitally driven, is set to transform communities, businesses and the way we spend, shop, work and shape organizations. In the oil-rich Middle East region, the agenda is to strengthen the non-oil economy, which was in fact, accelerated amidst the pandemic. And indeed, the UAE is a stable territory, having a strong foundation in digital economy, with around 9 million active internet users and leading in mobile internet and connectivity index with 78.2 percent penetration rate (Mobile connectivity index: GSMA). It also provides a strong base for the fintech and e-commerce sectors as well.
While the oil rich MENA region is gearing up for a post-oil phase in its development path, it has been a blessing in disguise for the region to refocus its attention on building up infrastructure and speeding up its readiness for a knowledge-based economy, with a focus on green technologies. Expectations are that oil prices will pick up significantly and might cross a potential 100 US$ mark by 2023, with strong growth, but generating jobs and gaining traction in other emerging sectors are critical for the region, particularly the UAE.
Certainly, Covid induced movement restrictions have hit tourism and the new social norms have contributed to demand contraction. While many businesses were affected, service providers and local demand driven sectors were not significantly impacted during the lockdown, as compared to global value chain linked entities. A closer look reveals that there is an emerging vibrant population of new firms, particularly entrepreneurs with ever seen enthusiasm, optimism and technology backing and skills. For instance, new ventures in-E-learning, fintech, real estate-proptech, healthcare and e-pharma emerging. According to the global fintech index city rankings report 2020, the UAE ranks top in the global fintech index, with nearly half of the region’s fintechs based out of here.
The start-up scene has witnessed many new ventures, with a focus on e-payments, insurance, online lending, digital banking, crowdfunding, blockchain and cryptocurrency, to name a few. The UAE has seen the most amount of investment within the fintech sector in the Gulf. A Report on global fintech index city rankings states that the UAE accounted for 47% of all financial tech deals and majority of the MENA region’s fintech start-ups, with a leading position in the city index. E-commerce transactions in the UAE are greater than predicted, partly due to Covid-19, which shifted shoppers online. In fact, shopping and eCommerce accounted for a much greater share of UAE card payment transaction values in 2020 than was predicted before the pandemic; 21.9% share, up from 19.7%, according to Visa study report titled UAE e-commerce landscape.
Work from home has created demand for spacious, healthy and eco-friendly homes. From catering to the new normal work from home, to knowledge economy workers, home business entrepreneurs, gig workers and freelancers-a new housing market is emerging. In order to further aid this, the UAE has introduced new a visa for remote-knowledge workers to make the UAE’s smart cities their home, to live in and work remotely. This will also add impetus to the new demand for furnished residences that meet the needs of remote-virtual working professionals from around the globe.
To conclude, while there are challenges, the key word is innovation. It is abundantly clear that those enterprise and entrepreneurs who successfully explore new markets, products, opportunities and deliver a product or developing a market, will emerge victorious and resilient in the long-run.
About MUSA KHALFAN:
*Musa Khalfan Yasin, is an Emirati athlete turned entrepreneur, champion at 100m & 200m Sprinter events and UAE’s fastest man and has won over 42 medals. His business interests range from Energy, Investments & Finance and Real Estate. He is founder and CEO MKi Investment: www.mki.ae . INSTAGRAM: https://www.instagram.com/musakhalfan/
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