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Entrepreneurship ecosystem in the United Arab Emirates: An empirical comparison with Qatar and Saudi Arabia



Objective: This paper aims to investigate and assess the UAE’s overall entrepreneurship performance (ecosystem) by applying the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI).
Research Design & Methods: This paper assesses the United Arab Emirates’ entrepreneurial ecosystem and compares it with Qatar and Saudi Arabia by using the Global Entrepreneurship Index (GEI) data collected between 2011 and 2016. The GEI approach is applied to measure the entrepreneurship ecosystem at the country level, and it constitutes an appropriate method to encourage a higher level of entrepreneurship by considering its quality aspects.
Findings: Outcomes show an entrepreneurial ecosystem with a GEI index of 44.6. Technology absorption is a critical bottleneck that suppresses entrepreneurial goals. Despite the low score of this pillar, the UAE has one of the highest GDP per capita among all participating countries. As a result, the GEI score of the United Arab Emirates and its sub-indices are above the global average trend and count to the most innovation-driven economies worldwide. However, the UAE is not performing well compared to other average performers in its category.
Implications & Recommendations: Crucial policy interferences are required for the improvement of technology absorption. UAE calls for 4% additional resources to expand the GEI score by 10%.
Contribution & Value Added: Using a novel approach incorporating individual and institutional variables into a single model, this paper identifies the weak aspects of UAE’s entrepreneurial performance. Also, the utilisation of (PFB) is used to identify which entrepreneurial factors should be tackled.


entrepreneurship; entrepreneurship ecosystem; entrepreneurship performance; GEI; Persian Gulf; Arabian Peninsula, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates


Author Biography

Ayman Balawi

PhD Candidate in Business Administration at the University of Pécs (Hungary); Master’s in business administration (2017, Birzeit University, Palestine); Bachelor of Electronics Engineering with minor in physics in (2011, Palestine Polytechnic University, Palestine). His research interests include the relationship between transformational and transactional leadership and their impact on Innovative behaviours, entrepreneurship, social media marketing.

Correspondence to: Mr. Ayman Balawi, Faculty of Business and Economics, University of Pécs, Rákóczi út 80, 7622, Hungary, e-mail:


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