Aligning with UAE Vision 2021

5 minute read


In 2010, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, set the country’s ambitious goals in his Vision 2021.

Vision 2021 aims to make the UAE one of the most progressive countries in the world by 2021.

HH Sheikh Mohammed said: “We are determined to respond proactively to all challenges in a way that will bequeath to the future generations a legacy worthy of the pioneers who founded our great nation, a legacy defined by prosperity, security, stability, and a life filled with dignity and respect.”

Among the six national priorities mapped out in Vision 2021 is economic development. More specifically, the aim is to increase entrepreneurship and intrapreneurship in the region, ensuring the UAE will be a global economic player now and into the future. Vision 2021 focuses on the UAE becoming the economic, tourism and commercial capital for more than two billion people by transitioning to a knowledge-based economy, promoting innovation, research and development.

A focus area of this entrepreneurial spirit is SMEs, which already accounts for 47% of the emirate’s (Dubai’s or UAE’s?) GDP and more than half of its workforce. Vision 2021 also calls for an entrepreneurial culture in schools and universities and aims to build the start-ups of the future to tackle our world’s challenges through leadership, creativity, responsibility and ambition.

Answering the government’s call to building a culture of entrepreneurship, Intelak was founded in September 2016 by principal partners Emirates Group, GE and Dubai Tourism & Commerce Marketing and hosted by Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Centre. Intelak is an aviation, travel and tourism incubator that helps remove the barriers of starting and growing a business by fostering an entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Since its inception, we have witnessed the tangible contribution to building an entrepreneurial culture, collaboration and the democratisation of entrepreneurship, highlighting the vital role that our graduating startups play in shaping the future of these industries. For example The Concept, a startup founded by four university students that graduated from Intelak in 2017, illustrates the potential students have to build the businesses of the future with support from an incubator like Intelak.

With core competencies in design, engineering, and business, the team produced a light-weight inflight economy food tray that combines functionality, sustainability, technology and convenience. Since graduating from Intelak, they have gone on to work with some of the world’s leading airlines and flight catering centres. To date, The Concept has saved partner airlines 10,000 tonnes of fuel, reduced carbon emissions by 30,000 tonnes, and recycled 800,000 trays. In the two years since graduation, they have grown into an award-winning company that delivers solutions for the aviation market, and is expanding further into transportation, hospitality, and medical needs.

Over the last three years, we have observed the importance of bringing expertise, access and funding to startups to position them positively for future success. These three factors are integral in supporting Dubai to become a key aviation, travel and tourism hub:

A startup ecosystem should never be isolated, and so we’re accepting international startups who have a vision to make Dubai their base. Dubai has been reinvesting in more trade avenues, infrastructure, and service industries and has been insulated from the recent drop in oil prices. Dubai’s economy is more resilient, thanks to the government’s open skies, open seas and free trade policies, with limited regulations and restrictions – among several others, the International Financial Centre is a good example. This makes for the perfect fertile ground for startups

Dubai is one of the five fastest-growing metropolitan areas in the world, and part of this is due to its unique location. Dubai is a central hub, capable of reaching the Middle East, Africa, and Asia with relative ease. Strong emerging markets, like those in Pakistan, India, and north eastern Africa are ripe for entrepreneurial opportunities — and Dubai represents a focal point that can reach all of them at once. To entrepreneurs from the region and beyond who dream of building the Ubers and Airbnbs of tomorrow, this is a dream come true

We are very proud of our startups such as The Concept who are using a circular economy model approach to redesign inflight food trays. Their approach is to be sustainable, ethical and think long-term without compromising the end-users’ travel experience. We believe we need the perfect balance between economic and social development to achieve Vision 2021 and are proud that 25% of our startups are creating a social and/or environmental impact as well as generating financial ROI. As we progress, we will continue to support socially driven startups with the vision to use emerging technologies to positively impact people and the planet and change the future of aviation, travel and tourism.

Intelak is a committed partner to the UAE, and will remain aligned with the nation’s ambitious goals for years to come. Join us! Find out more and apply at