“What makes the difference between places is people like you. Unleashing people’s potential is our greatest asset,” said HE Mohammed Al Gergawi, UAE Minister of Cabinet Affairs, at the launch of AstroLabs, MENA’s only Google-partnered tech hub, yesterday (Monday).
Located in cluster R of Dubai’s Jumeirah Lakes Towers, the tech hub’s new 6,500 sq ft co-working space was officially opened by AstroLabs founders Louis Lebbos and Muhammed Mekki.
The launch event hosted over 300 local entrepreneurs, investors, government officials, and media representatives.
As keynote speaker, HE Al Gergawi addressed the audience with a motivating speech about the vision of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE vice president and prime minister, and ruler of Dubai, and how the emirate’s tech entrepreneurs play a vital role within it.
He told the crowd that in 1999 he had been driving with HH Sheikh Mohammed around a desert area which would later become Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City.
“That was on 29 of October, 1999. A year later, on 28 of October, 2000, His Highness opened this [Dubai Media City and Dubai Internet City] and we already had 120 companies registered,” he said.
“It was a big dream. We were neither a technology nor a media hub, but we felt technology and media would merge. And they did actually.
“It all started in that part of the desert.”
AstroLabs currently hosts 42 start-ups across 15 industries with the founders hailing from 27 countries. One quarter of AstroLabs Dubai members are women.
The main purpose of the hub is to offer scalable tech start-ups a custom co-working space, mentorship, and business licenses to start operating in the UAE.
AstroLabs’ partnership with the DMCC provides members with fast-tracked and subsidised business licenses, enabling founders to immediately establish local UAE residencies and company bank accounts.
The new space features a Google mobile device lab, five meeting and video conferencing rooms, a training and events facility, and artisanal coffee boutique 59 Degrees.
Reaffirming the government’s commitment to entrepreneurship and the importance of the AstroLabs Dubai tech hub in 2015 as the UAE’s national Year of Innovation, HE. Al Gergawi added: “We are fortunate to have leaders who believe in empowering people. They have taken us where we are today.
“I believe that as the government our job is to look at the future. We foresee what will happen in various sectors and think how to bring it to our citizens and how to engage the private sector.
“We are in the business of creating new things. As government officials, our job is to listen, serve and make things happen.
“We bring your wish list into reality.”
Astrolabs’s exclusive Google for Entrepreneurs Passport Programme allows entrepreneurs to access over 20 Google-partnered hubs across the globe, from Seoul to San Francisco.
In December, the space will be hosting a Google for Entrepreneurs Exchange Program, bringing 12 top travel start-ups from around the world to Dubai.
"Dubai has all the right ingredients to become a leading global destination for tech startups, and we are working toward realising that goal." said Mekki.
"Going forward, Louis and I are excited to continue building communities of entrepreneurs who make things happen."For all the latest business news from the UAE and Gulf countries, follow us on Twitter and Linkedin, like us on Facebook and subscribe to our YouTube page, which is updated daily.
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