Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) get special focus from the UAE Government as they are considered vital for the economic diversification and growth and also because they help in building national human resources. SMEs in the UAE find support for launching and growth from National SME Programme, The UAE SME Council, Operation 300bn, the UAE’s industrial strategy, Khalifa Fund and Dubai SME.
As of mid-2020, there were 350,000 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the UAE. They:
View the interactive table on classification of SMEs, based on annual returns and number of employees.
Scroll down on the link above to find an infographic on the number of SMEs in each emirate, further divided into sectors and size, and number of men and women working in that emirate. For example, the table below shows the number of SMEs in the trade sector in the emirate of Abu Dhabi with a further classification of size of the businesses. It also shows number of men and women working in that selection.
Under the theme of Competitive Knowledge Economy of Vision 2021, the UAE aims to increase the percentage of contribution of SMEs to the non-oil GDP from 53 in 2018 to 60 by the year 2021.
The UAE believes that entrepreneurship plays a key role in unlocking the potential of nationals and enables them to be a driving force of the UAE’s economic development through small and medium enterprises in the private sector. It strives to instil an entrepreneurial culture in schools and universities to foster generations endowed with leadership, creativity, responsibility and ambition. This will allow the UAE to be among the best in the world in ease of doing business, innovation, entrepreneurship and R&D indicators.
Some of the steps taken by the UAE to boost SMEs are as follows. The UAE:
Khalifa Fund, a not-for-profit entity mandated by the Abu Dhabi Government has been supporting SMEs since 2007. It started with a capital of AED 300 million, which increased to AED 2 billion and now covers SMEs across the UAE.
Services of Khalifa Fund
Khalifa Fund helps aspiring Emirati businessmen with the following services:
Funding from Khalifa Fund
The table below shows the various programmes under which one can seek funds. Click on the image for a larger view of the text.
Apply for fund
To apply for fund, send an eMail to email@example.com for steps on registering on the Khalifa Fund Gateway or log on to the Smart Khalifa Fund portal.
View your journey from applying for membership to starting your business (PDF, 500 KB).
Refer to the FAQs relating to application, loans, memberships etc.
Download the Business Plan template (Docx file, 350 KB).
Refer to Abu Dhabi SME Hub for additional resources on launching a business.
Dubai SME supports GCC nationals to establish small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the emirate of Dubai. Established in 2002, it was created as an integrated division of the Department of Economic Development (DED) and as a resource for support, information and outreach for the growing small and medium enterprise sector.
Services of Dubai SME
Dubai SME helps in all aspects of business: planning, launching and growing.
Under planning, Dubai SME offers guidance and training to aspiring entrepreneurs. For seeking guidance, GCC nationals must provide the following documents:
How to apply
For guidance, apply to Dubai SME by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For training, apply to Dubai Entrepreneurship Academy.
Dubai SME exempts start-ups from licensing-related fees for five years from the start of the business. It also helps in issuing the Intelaq licence for Dubai residents who wish to run a business from home. It also provides funding options for launching the business.
Funding from Dubai SME
Dubai SME offers a loan on the seed capital to a maximum of 1 million AED to reduce initial costs of starting up a business project.
Terms and conditions
To seek funding from Dubai SME, the following conditions must be met:
How to apply
Log on to TheFund.ae to apply for funds. Read about the application process.
Dubai SME helps SMEs to grow their businesses by:
Get all eServices from Dubai SME.
MoF offers digital solutions to create a business-friendly environment for SMEs.
Ministry of Economy
Read about the National Programme for Small and Medium Enterprises which aims to enable Emirati entrepreneurs and SME owners to establish and develop their businesses.
The National Entrepreneurship Agenda- – Ministry of Economy
Small to Medium Sized Enterprises (SME) Market Conduct Regulation-(PDF,1.54 MB)- Central Bank of the UAE.