Emirati entrepreneurs blaze trails from Trek to Saudi to centre stage at COP28

Emirati entrepreneurs blaze trails from 'Trek to Saudi' to centre stage at COP28

3 Min | 20 December 2023
  • Unique two-day ‘Trek to Saudi’ immersive experience designed for Emirati entrepreneurs
  • Panel discussion and graduation ceremony at COP28 marked the culmination of Emirates NBD NDTI program run in partnership with DIFC Innovation Hub

Dubai, UAE, 20 December 2023: Emirates NBD, a leading banking group in the MENAT (Middle East, North Africa, and Türkiye) region, has broken new ground in entrepreneurial development. As a highlight of the National Digital Talent Incubator (NDTI) program launched in October 2023, the Bank organized a unique two-day trek to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for Emirati startup Founders. This innovative and immersive experience was designed to inspire and provide additional value to the Founders by exposing them to alternative digital ecosystems for start-ups.

During the two-day journey, Emirati entrepreneurs engaged in an enriching itinerary, including an meeting with Naser Yousef, Emirates NBD KSA CEO, and senior leaders of the bank, while visiting King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology – The Garage, in Riyadh. The Founders also had the opportunity to present their organizations and network with Saudi venture builders and FinTechs. Given the notable advancements in the Saudi FinTech sector, with Saudi Central Bank (SAMA) granting licenses to 24 FinTech companies, it emphasizes the industry's momentum in the Kingdom, making Saudi Arabia an ideal destination for this experience.

Following the ‘Trek to Saudi’ experience, the NDTI program culminated with the Founders taking centre stage in an informative panel discussion focused on ‘Empowering Emirati Founders’ at the 28th United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28) held in Dubai, UAE. The panel discussion provided Emirati entrepreneurs with an opportunity to spotlight their insights and achievements at a global venue as the world converged to witness groundbreaking discussions on sustainability, innovation and entrepreneurship. The session ended with Emirates NBD presenting the Founders with a commemorative gift, marking the end of the 8-week incubator program.

Abdulla Qassem, Group Chief Operating Officer, Emirates NBD, said: “As a bank that has always championed innovation and is a leader in digital banking, Emirates NBD sets a great example of developing local skills to the industry standard and leading positive efforts in the banking sector to develop talented nationals by enabling them to learn, train and enhance their readiness to work in various industries and raise the level of our digital economy. We are confident the NDTI program will help in catalysing economic development and innovation in the financial services industry and the UAE economy.”

Mohammad Alblooshi, CEO of DIFC Innovation Hub, said: “Our youth are the architects of our future and by investing in their growth, we are creating the foundation for our nation’s next generation leaders to achieve more outstanding accomplishments. At DIFC Innovation hub, we are committed to providing platforms for homegrown entrepreneurs to achieve greater success and sustained growth. Through our partnership with ENBD, the NDTI will enable Emirati start-up founders to gain unparalleled exposure and valuable guidance from local and global industry leaders and set themselves up for success. Our commitment to nurturing the talents and capabilities of our citizens in the financial services industry is an investment in the continued success and global competitiveness of nation, in line with D33 agenda to bring Dubai at the forefront of the global digital economy industry.”

The NDTI program is supported by partners Visa, Microsoft, Dell Technologies, and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), the leading global financial centre in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA). Facilitated by DIFC Innovation Hub, the bespoke incubator program aims to boost UAE talent and the growth of entrepreneurship within the FinTech and digital innovation space. Stay tuned for Cohort two of the NDTI program scheduled for March 2024, promising another wave of groundbreaking initiatives and entrepreneurial prowess.

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