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5 startup networks at your fingertips in the UAE

Jul 30, 2019 | UAE Company Setup

For entrepreneurs launching their own startup in the UAE, there is no shortage of support to tap into from other business owners.

However, finding the right networking group for you and your business is a matter of trial and error. In fact, it’s often worth joining more than one network: you will soon get an idea of which ones are giving you what you need.

In this article, we’ve picked out five networking groups in the UAE that are worth looking into.

1. Dubai Startup Hub

Meet like-minded entrepreneurs and learn from business success stories.

Dubai Startup Hub is a network of complementary professionals and trusted partners, who work together to provide clarity and direction for entrepreneurs based in the UAE. A government-supported initiative run by Dubai Chamber, it was set up to encourage startups to take root in the UAE by providing support and


An extensive list of trusted partners can be accessed to provide professional advice and services to improve startup brands and answer any questions they might have. Plus, a calendar of regular events allows startup owners to network with experienced professionals, who are happy to share their experience of doing business in the UAE.

What Dubai Startup Hub can do for you

For anyone starting up in a new country, a word from a fellow entrepreneur with a few years under their belt can be invaluable. As a member of Dubai Startup Hub, you will be able to call on the experience of other members for guidance, as well as having access to a roster of trusted providers for the business services you need.

You will also be eligible to enter competitions, such as Dubai Smartpreneur, with the opportunity to win funding from top investors.

2. Startup Grind

Local chapters of a global networking powerhouse.

Startup Grind is a global startup networking community, powered by Google for Startups.

The whole network connects 1.5 million entrepreneurs in 500 cities around the world.

In the UAE, we have local chapters of Startup Grind in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.

These groups help entrepreneurs by nurturing startup ecosystems through monthly events, media and strategic partnerships with organisations like Google for Startups.

What Startup Grind can do for you

As a member of Startup Grind, you will be able to attend inspirational and insightful talks from successful entrepreneurs. Previous speakers include Mona Ataya, founder of online marketplace Mumzworld, and Haider Ali Khan, co-founder and CEO of UAE property portal bayut.com.

The global structure of the organisation also means you can attend Startup Grind events anywhere in the world, including the annual global conference, and network with members from overseas.

Country Specific Business Groups

3. Country-specific business groups

Putting you in touch with organisations from your home country

There are business groups from a variety of countries operating in Dubai. A few examples include the British Business Group, the Indian Business and Professional Council (IBPC), the Australian Business Council Dubai (ABCD), and the American Business Council in Dubai (known as AmCham Dubai). They all have one thing in common – the potential to help you and your company.

What country-specific business groups can do for you

Business groups are a fantastic way to network, gain access to new opportunities, and get up-to-date news on the market. Many of the groups run social activities, leadership events, as well as promoting bilateral business opportunities.

With each one boasting hundreds of members, a shared language and culture, and aligned goals, working with a business group from your home country can offer you great opportunities, whether you’re about to set up in Dubai or already established.

4. BNI

No-nonsense networking and referrals without competition

BNI is the world’s leading networking and referral marketing organisation. Its aims are to create a forum for members to share ideas, contacts, networks and, in particular, referrals. The latter is a key part of the BNI philosophy, and you will be expected to provide your share of referrals in order to maintain your membership.

There are a number of BNI chapters in the UAE, but they all operate under the same rules. Meetings take place at 7am and each group is limited to one member representing any professional specification. That means no competition within the group.

What BNI can do for you

If you like the idea of a strictly disciplined and regimented approach to networking, BNI is worth a try. The competition-free structure means that you will be the sole specialist in your field within your BNI chapter, which should mean a higher concentration of referrals coming your way.

Dubai Entrepreneurs Network

5. Dubai Entrepreneurs Network (DEN)

DEN is a Dubai-based networking group that holds weekly networking sessions where members come together to share ideas. The network welcomes aspiring entrepreneurs (i.e., those still in employment or studying) as well as fully fledged startup owners. It’s a good place to pick up some valuable advice while you’re still laying the groundwork for your new venture.

There are weekly meetings scheduled as well as guest speaker events, but the chief resource is the discussion board where members can post messages about the services they offer or those they need.

What DEN can do for you

With over 6,000 registered members, the DEN discussion board is a resource that can help you to find contacts and promote your services.

The weekly meetings take place in a local cafe and are free to attend.

The right networking group for you

A quick internet search will bring up a variety of networking groups, including specialist groups for businesswomen, young entrepreneurs, specific business sectors and even specific nationalities. The five I’ve picked out are a recommended starting point, but my advice is to try a few.

After all, the more you learn about other people’s businesses, the more people will learn about yours.

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