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Dubai 'major hub for SE Asian digital firms'

DUBAI, October 14, 2016

Dubai is increasingly becoming the hub for Southeast Asian innovators expanding into emerging markets in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, according to experts ahead of Gitex Technology Week.

Gitex, which opens next week in Dubai, is set to host more than 4,000 exhibiting companies, 64 participating countries, 230 speakers, and more than 400 startups from over 60 countries this year.

Thanks to increasing purchasing power, Internet penetration, and online offerings, the Asean e-commerce market is set to grow more than nine-fold from $7 billion in 2013 to more than $67 billion by 2017, the experts said, citing a recent report by consultancy AT Kearney.

This market growth presents a strong opportunity for digital marketing firms and startups to expand their innovations from Southeast Asia and localise them to emerging markets.

Many of these firms are based in Singapore, a major business hub and the top Southeast Asian city for startup support, according to a recent ranking by the Compass Startup Ecosystem.

“Singapore’s digital-first companies and startups need to expand quickly, and emerging markets such as the Middle East, Africa, and Asia present the biggest growth opportunities,” said Aseem Puri, the Singapore-based marketing head at Unilever International.

He will headline the digital marketing conference Gitex Marketing Monday, part of the wider Vertical Days programme on how technology impacts different industry verticals.

Aseem Puri represents the best of Singapore-based digital marketing innovations. In his role, he launches and builds Unilever brands across new geographies, channels, and customers. Among the innovations he has led are e-commerce-exclusive launches and building a global customer relationship management platform for online direct marketing.

Now, Southeast Asia’s multinationals and startups are turning to Dubai for expansion. For example, the UAE is Singapore’s largest Middle East trading partner, with trade reaching S$ 18.3 billion ($13.5 billion) in 2015, according to International Enterprise Singapore.

“Digital marketing innovations that work in Singapore hold high potential in Dubai and the Arabian Gulf, with similar fast-growth markets, digitally-savvy English-speaking affluent customers, and a supportive startup ecosystem,” added Puri.

At Gitex Marketing Monday, fellow digital marketing innovators from AkzoNobel, Caesars Entertainment, Facebook, LinkedIn will address topics such as mobile marketing, the hyper-personal customer experience, and the augmented reality brand experience.

The organisers are tapping into Singapore’s experience, especially in regard to their support of digital marketing best practices for Middle East companies and startups.

Gitex consistently attracts a strong showing by international tech companies, from global corporations to niche brands, drawn by its unique access to emerging markets from Africa, throughout the Middle East, to Central and South Asia.

Southeast Asia-based investors will play a central role at the Gitex Global Startup Movement.

Jeffrey Paine, the managing partner of early stage seed fund Golden Gate Venture will speak at the Gitex Global Startup Movement on valuation.

Jayesh Parekh, the managing partner at early stage venture capital firm Jungle Ventures will meet with startups to evaluate business plans.

The Singapore Cross Trade agency will also host numerous companies at Gitex Technology Week, including Navtech, a mobile device manufacturer for communications companies.

“The Middle East and Africa are leapfrogging established markets in communications innovations. GITEX and Dubai are hubs for reaching these markets, especially for savvy customers that want the expertise and high quality craftsmanship that are hallmarks of Singaporean companies,” said Abhinav Patodia, the chief strategy officer at Navtech.

Trixie LohMirmand, the senior vice-president for Exhibitions and Events Management at the DWTC sees strong parallels between Singapore and Dubai.

“Dubai’s vision for future growth is very close to the Southeast Asian model – high-tech, service-based, built around trade, business friendly, and international in its outlook. For any tech or e-commerce business wanting to trade across Southeast Asia, Singapore is a major obvious base. Similarly, when they want to expand beyond Southeast Asia, Dubai is a logical next step, and Gitex is a good place to test the water,” said Trixie LohMirmand.-TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Dubai | Southeast Asia | digital firms |

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