Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: The Fikra Labs Acceleration Programme, a new concept to drive innovation and foster entrepreneurship in the Abu Dhabi travel and tourism sector, concluded its four-week acceleration programme yesterday (May 1) with the announcement of the four winning MENA start-ups.

The winning start-ups that were awarded the coveted investment opportunity included Tapklik Technologies mentored by DCT Abu Dhabi, ViaFone Technologies mentored by ADNEC, Arabot mentored by Etihad Aviation Group and Scene mentored by Miral.

Since its launch in February, Fikra Labs, developed by the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, Miral, Etihad Aviation Group and Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company, supported by Abu Dhabi Global Market, in collaboration with Wamda, has become a centre of innovation for partners and participants. The programme concluded with a series of sessions in which the finalists worked with the Wamda team and industry experts to finalise their prototype, pitches and presentation decks. They then pitched their ideas to the jury and participated in a Q&A session before the four winners were announced.

HE Noura Al Kaabi, UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development and Chairwoman of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company commented: “We witnessed a huge leap during the course of the programme in the level of maturity each startup has presented. ADNEC is thrilled to be part of a programme that embraces innovation and values creativity. This initiative provides us with an opportunity to support entrepreneurs achieve financial and business sustainability and allows the winners to implement their creative ideas and projects, which ultimately contribute to changing business practices in the tourism sector in general and business tourism.”

Commenting on the success of the programme, HE Saif Saeed Ghobash, Undersecretary, the Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi, said: “As part of our mandate to promote Abu Dhabi as a destination of distinction, we began this year with the launch of a new concept to nurture the best talent who will help further transform Abu Dhabi into the leading global hub for travel and tourism. We are delighted to have found our four winning start-ups who were able to rise up to the challenges and shine bright as beacons of innovation. We look forward to working with them in the coming months.”

In his role as CEO of Miral, Mohamed Abdalla Al Zaabi said: “We are extremely proud to be one of the partners of the Fikra Labs project. We believe that an innovation-driven culture is essential to help us achieve our vision of making Yas Island one of the top tourist destinations in the world.  We look forward to working with the winners in the next few months, as they transform their great innovative and creative ideas into reality, and are hopeful that one of these projects will come to life on Yas Island.”

Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “It's a pleasure for Etihad Aviation Group to be a founding member of Fikra Labs, and we are excited to join our partners today for the final stage of this exciting initiative. Etihad has had the additional honour of hosting the 12 shortlisted start-ups at our Innovation Centre for the last month as they refined their business models and propositions. We have experienced first-hand their enthusiasm, dedication and talent. We believe that engaging with the start-up community through platforms such as Fikra Labs is an important part of building a start-up eco-system in the UAE. This community engagement enables knowledge sharing and collaboration, which are key success factors for any start-up. Just as importantly, Fikra Labs creates opportunities for new companies to disrupt the wider travel and tourism sector, and by extension, support the development of the UAE's economy.”

HE Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Global Market, further remarked: “We are extremely pleased to have played our part in this programme to nurture and foster our region’s growing talent. As an international financial centre, committed to supporting innovation, the Abu Dhabi Global Market will continue to actively engage the industry through such platforms and strengthen our support to augment Abu Dhabi’s innovation ecosystem across the region. We look forward to working closely with the winners of this programme and showcasing Abu Dhabi’s rising potential in incubating innovative talent.”

During the four-week incubation period, each partner was responsible for training and guiding three start-ups to address different challenges with a key focus of enhancing the visitor’s experience – from the moment they book their ticket to arriving to Abu Dhabi.  Partners were looking for ideas that best tackle these challenges and support them in establishing Abu Dhabi’s credentials as the leading hub for world-class tourism.

Each winning start-up was awarded with $100,000 investment by the relevant partner and will now be given the unique opportunity to become an integral part of the Emirate’s travel and tourism landscape.


Please find the 12 finalist profiles included below:

Mentored by DCT Abu Dhabi

Challenge: Improving the impact of marketing campaigns 

  • Tapklik Technologies (Winner) – the first full-stack programmatic media-buying and real-time bidding platform locally in the Middle East with an aim to increase the overall performance and ROI for both advertisers and publishers.
  • 360 VUZ – the #1 App and Technology that helps to ‘transport’ millions of people in time to be virtually present and increase the reach and awareness of campaigns and events using their 360º live technologies.
  • Wasla – a fintech-based business which links customers with business systems and solutions while allowing creative and open-source channels for payments, transfer of information and interactivity. Wasla came about with the purpose of developing technological solutions through digital implementations and business understanding for best customer journeys and experience.

Mentored by ADNEC 

Challenge: Enhancing the customer experience

  • Kill My Routine – the first online platform that matches events with the user’s mood. The organisation creates the best events, breaking them down into specific components and tagging them with an emotional outcome. This allows the business to make personalised recommendations based on multiple criteria, including age, personality type, fitness level, emotional among others. The smart platform can learn about users’ preferences on the go; the more events a person attends, the more personalised their experience becomes.
  • TravoTech – a complete "Online Travel Agency" builder that consists of Customer (B2C) & Business (B2B) interfaces. This online platform enables inbound travel agencies to build their own travel portals from a friendly back-office and choose a design as a dynamic website from many built-in templates.
  • ViaFone Technologies (Winner) – a leading technology provider founded in 2009 that specialises in loyalty solutions and engagement services for companies from a wide array of industries. 

Mentored by Etihad Aviation Group 

Challenge: Creating smart feedback systems

  • CogTalk – a custom Artificial Intelligence (AI) services organisation that specialises in the intersection of AI and customer experience. They make every customer interaction memorable, in a cost-efficient manner.
  • Noah International – an organisation that has been working on disrupting the travel industry by developing an innovative “chat and feedback” bot named “Rafiq”. It is an intelligent, AI-powered travel concierge bot with a two-fold functionality: (i) enabling guests to communicate with the airline in real time and (ii) collecting extensive feedback from guests.
  • Arabot (Winner) – a start-up that helps business partners improve their customer experience, automate their processes and reduce their operational costs through building helpful chatbots that can handle all services. 

Mentored by Miral 

Challenge: Enhancing the Yas Island visitor journey 

  • Scene (Winner) – an AI-powered niche social discovery platform for entertainment and city experiences. The platform is user-driven consisting of mobile and web applications automating entertainment discovery, planning, ticketing and community engagement (online-to-offline).
  • Anabivirtual – a start-up that builds experiences in virtual and augmented reality in the cultural heritage and touristic domains.
  • Dice Dream – inventor of a new platform called "Reality", a virtual mobile game developed to be played by visitors, family and citizens on Yas Island.

For more information, please contact:

Jehana Jabbar


+971 55 106 0952 

About The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi:

The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi conserves and promotes the heritage and culture of Abu Dhabi emirate and leverages them in the development of a world-class, sustainable destination of distinction that enriches the lives of visitors and residents alike.  The Department manages the emirate’s tourism sector and markets the destination internationally through a wide range of activities aimed at attracting visitors and investment.  Its policies, plans and programmes relate to the preservation of heritage and culture, including protecting archaeological and historical sites and to developing museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi.  The Department of Culture and Tourism – Abu Dhabi supports intellectual and artistic activities and cultural events to nurture a rich cultural environment and honour the emirate’s heritage.  A key role played by the Department is to create synergy in the destination’s development through close coordination with its wide-ranging stakeholder base.  http://tcaabudhabi.ae/en 

About Miral:

Miral is Abu Dhabi’s creator of destinations, uniting people and places through unique, immersive and exciting experiences. Responsible for the development and management of Yas Island, Miral’s assets encompass entertainment, hospitality, leisure, sport, dining, retail and real estate destinations. Today, Yas Island is home to Ferrari World Abu Dhabi, Yas Waterworld, Yas Links Golf Course, Yas Mall, Yas Marina Circuit, Yas Marina and seven hotels, including the flagship Yas Viceroy. For more information on Miral, visit www.miral.ae 

About Etihad Aviation Group:

Headquartered in Abu Dhabi, the Etihad Aviation Group (EAG) is a diversified global aviation and travel group comprising five business divisions – Etihad Airways, the national airline of the United Arab Emirates; Etihad Airways Engineering; Etihad Airport Services; Hala Group and Airline Equity Partners. For more information, please visit: www.theetihadaviationgroup.com   

About Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company:

Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) is playing a vital role in the Emirate’s ambition to become a leading destination for business meetings and events. Through bidding for and

hosting international conferences and exhibitions, ADNEC’s economic impact to Abu Dhabi is undeniably immense and is consistently rising year on year.

The Group is made up of Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre, Al Ain Convention Centre, ExCeL London, Capital Gate, ADNEC Services, Capital Hospitality, Hyatt Capital Gate, Aloft Abu Dhabi and Aloft London ExCeL. 

About Abu Dhabi Global Market:

Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) is a broad-based international financial centre, playing a pivotal role in positioning Abu Dhabi as a global centre for business and finance. It serves as a strategic link between the growing economies of the Middle East, Africa and South Asia and the rest of the world.

Comprising three independent authorities - the Registration Authority, the Financial Services Regulatory Authority and ADGM Courts - ADGM enables financial institutions, investors, corporate headquarters, service providers and entrepreneurs to thrive together and operate within a trusted international regulatory framework based on English Common Law, and with access to flexible and cost-effective legal vehicles, set-up services and ecosystem support. Since its inception, ADGM has been awarded the “Financial Centre of the Year (MENA)” for two consecutive years for its initiatives and contributions to the financial and capital markets industry in the region.

© Press Release 2018