Abu Dhabi is ranked as the fastest-growing emerging ecosystem in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), marking a 28% growth in ecosystem value, according to a new study.

Findings of the 2024 ‘Global Startup Ecosystem Report (GSER)’ by Startup Genome and the Global Entrepreneurship Network, revealed the UAE capital created $4.2 billion in ecosystem value between July 2021 and December 2023, representing the economic impact, calculated as the value of exits and startup valuations. 

Total early-stage funding for Abu Dhabi between that period accounted for $324 million, with total Venture Capital Funding for the period between 2019 to 2023 amounting to $1.1 billion.

The UAE capital’s Hub71 initiative, a global tech ecosystem, has grown to accommodate over 315 startups that have collectively raised $1.5 billion in funds since its 2019 inception. One of Hub71’s biggest success stories is Andalusia Labs, a US-based digital asset security firm, which achieved unicorn status after closing a $48 million Series A round in December 2023.

Abu Dhabi’s FinTech, AgTech and New Food, and ClimateTech sectors are highlighted for their density of talent, support resources, and startup activity, coupled with the emirate offering investors incentives such as 100% foreign ownership to attract foreign investment and startups into the economy.

The report further adds that the UAE capital is leveraging collaborations among these key ecosystem players, facilitating the soft-landing of startups from around the world, while enabling access to capital and commercial opportunities.

Within the GCC, Dubai led the ecosystem value chart at $23 billion, followed by Riyadh at $11 billion. In terms of Exit Value, Dubai led again with approximately $5 billion, followed by Riyadh at $3 billion.

(Writing by Bindu Rai, editing by Seban Scaria)