- Unicorns can play a huge role in promoting urban connectivity and creating jobs.
- The Arab-China conclave served as a platform to discuss the global economic outlook and sustainable development.
- Conclave is an opportunity to forge new connections, and open up fresh investment opportunities.
The 12th edition of the Annual Investment Meeting (AIM) hosted Top 50 Unicorns from China. The forum brought together investors, startups, and innovators from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and China.
It marked an opening ceremony for ‘Arab China Unicorn Investment Conclave’ by HE Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. It also saw the esteemed presence of Dr. Wissam Fattouh, Secretary General Union of Arab Banks and Mariam Gao, General Secretary of Arab China Unicorn Investment Conclave.
HE Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi said the “conclave gathers startups and unicorn companies that represent the future of the global economy.”
In venture capital industry, a unicorn refers to a privately held startup company with an estimated value of over $1 billion.
UAE-China trade and economic cooperation
The UAE Foreign Trade minister added, “We are proud of our status as a hub for innovation and entrepreneurship. We are committed to support the growth of emerging businesses that will shape the world around us. China is an increasingly important partner in these efforts. Today’s event underlines the synergies between both our approach and our ambition.”
The Annual Investment Meeting brought together investors and government leaders from over 170 countries.
HE Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi further stated, “The Arab world and China are bound by historic relations. Over the last 40 years, we have enjoyed remarkable progress – particularly in trade and economic cooperation. And this cooperation has yielded a substantial increase in bilateral trade and investment: As of 2021, the UAE was China’s top trade partner in both the Arab and GCC regions–and China was the UAE’s largest trading partner globally.
“In the last year, non-oil bilateral trade grew 18 percent to surpass 72 billion dollars. Two-way investment is also strong and covers critical industries such as real estate, logistics, storage, financial services, insurance, manufacturing, and technology.
“In total, these investments amounted to approximately $12 billion in 2021. Today, China is the third-largest foreign investor in the UAE, with investments worth $9.3 billion in 2021. This is a remarkable 514.5 percent increase from the sum invested in the UAE just ten years ago. And I am confident our best days are still ahead of us.”
HE Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi also emphasised how this conclave is an opportunity to forge new connections, open up fresh investment opportunities, and spark new ideas that will benefit all of us.
Startups pitch at Annual Investment Meeting to scale
Dr. Wissam Fattouh said, “It’s fantastic news to learn about the flourishing startup and unicorn growth in the Arab region, with the added benefit of evolving government policies to support their expansion. The adoption of AI and blockchain technologies is a promising development, which can enhance the potential of these startups to scale and flourish.
“The proposed Arab-China union can offer further prospects for collaborative growth. The forthcoming years will be thrilling to observe the Arab startup ecosystem’s persistent advancement and achievements.”
Mariam Gao, General Secretary of Arab China Unicorn Investment Conclave said, “We have assembled here to explore the remarkable opportunities and potential for success. We are grateful for the support extended by both private and government organizations from Arab and Chinese institutions, and we hope to establish a collaborative synergy between the two.
The collaboration between Arab and China has been strengthening significantly in recent years. While the Arab world has devised successful strategies, China has emerged as a global economic power.
“The primary aim of this event is to bring together the two nations and create a platform for mutual collaboration. We acknowledge that there will be modern-day challenges, but we are confident of finding solutions to overcome them,” noted Mariam Gao.
China Unicorns creating jobs
The forum also featured a session titled, ‘Unicorns: Urban Connectivity in Turbulent Times’. This was moderated by Kim Zietlow- Director, FDI Center who said, “The impact of economic turbulence can be far-reaching and affect both individuals and the economy as a whole. Unemployment, reduced consumer confidence, decreased investment, inflation, and government intervention are some of the factors that come into play during such times.
“It is crucial for governments and businesses to respond proactively and implement strategies to mitigate the negative effects. Unicorns can play a significant role in promoting urban connectivity and creating job opportunities, encouraging economic growth and stability.”
It featured speakers Walid Mansour, CEO – Middle East Venture Partners (MEVP), Mohamed Salah, Country Manager – Startup Grind.
Also present was Kareem Elsirafy, Managing Partner – Modus, Mansoor Madhavji, and Partner at Blockchain Founders Fund and LP at Loyal VC & Draper Goren HolmAntek.
Antek Kałuża, Creative Director – Econverse & Vice President of Warsaw Startup Club, Marianna Bulbucr, CEO and MP of Bizzmosis Group, Sean He, Founder – Silicon Harbour Capital attended the session, too.
Walid Mansour noted the focus of investments is shifting towards biotech and new tech-based businesses. This is meant to create returns to run economic cycles and consider various types of environments, including economic and health while planning investment strategies.
Significance of climate change on investments
Mohamed Salah, highlighted the benefits of working from home, including increased flexibility and work-life balance, reduced commute time and costs, and improved productivity and job satisfaction.
He also cited the challenges associated with remote work, such as social isolation and difficulty with collaboration and communication.
Kareem Elsirafy delved into the rising significance of climate change on investments. This includes the demand for sustainable and environmentally friendly investments and the potential impact of extreme weather on industries.
He also noted that firms are under pressure to become more environmentally responsible, and this has the potential to impact their profitability and valuation.
Mansoor Madhavji expressed his interest in use of blockchain and crypto, as well as the integration of blockchain and AI.
Antek Kałuża, emphasized the importance of encouraging and supporting young people with innovative ideas through education and skilling, which can drive growth in various industries.
Marianna Bulbucr highlighted the importance of knowledge and education, as well as practical regulations for startups to thrive, and discussed the UAE’s commitment to delivering value to businesses and sustainability.
Sean He discussed the UAE’s favorable environment for startups and the importance of collaboration and policy changes for innovation and investment.
Unicorns from China pitch on their growth plans
The panelists also shared their views on the impact of the Golden Visa program in retaining more developers and moving towards production rather than just consumption, as well as the importance of data ownership in the AI industry and the continued appetite for new technologies in China’s market.
The highlight of this forum was a Unicorns Pitch Presentations. Unicorns from China pitched their growth plans and potential for investors. Micheal LI is the managing partner of Breton Company which was formed in 2017.He said the firm is the first to successfully produce pure electric construction machinery and mining trucks in mass.
Their major innovative machinery includes the Pure Electric Loader (3, 5, 6 tonne) and the Pure Electric Mining Truck (100 tonne).
“By using electric machinery, the Chinese market can save over $10 billion in social expenditure every year. This technology provides the benefits of low cost, renewable energy, and abundant transport capacity, contributing to a more prosperous global economy.
Moreover, it has social benefits such as improving the working environment and protecting the rights and interests of workers.”
Reshaping the global gaming industry
Lawrence Xiong, CEO, Armclouding demonstrated how the Unicorn plans to reshape the gaming industry. With hundreds of millions of users and over 100,000 developers, the Chinese gaming market is massive.
WeChat and QQ have already launched instant-play platforms. With a growth rate of 30 percent, they registered $5 billion in total revenue in 2022.
Already, China’s self-developed mobile games have hit $39 billion in overseas markets. The industry has an estimated market share of 45 percent in the international mobile market.
Armclouding offers solutions to the gaming industry, such as instant-play games that don’t require downloads or registration. It also provides interactive game streaming that allows users to interact while playing. The company aims to build a new global game community with an expected scale of more than $100 billion.
Xiaoudida Smart Car Wash
China is arguably the largest automotive market and significant potential for growth. Xiaoudida Smart Car Wash co-founder Martin Qu said they are experiencing a surge in automobile ownership. Last year, car ownership in China hit 319 million from 120 million units reported in 2012.
Xiaoudida Smart Car Wash operates on a complete ecological chain. This starts from acquiring their consumers to profiting using cloud computing approaches in their online business.
They provide auto services, 24/7 car washes, and have established over 3,700 smart stations in 22 provinces throughout China.
At the Annual Investment Meeting, startups got a chance to pitch to investors as they seek financing to scale their growth.
Shenzhen Sharp Light Technology Co., Ltd., under the leadership of Mr. Longdong Chen, also presented. The firm serves as a leading designer of automotive camera products using single photon avalanche diode technology.
They are committed to developing highly efficient, cost-effective, and mass-produced unmanned driving perception products that provide unmanned driving performance. As a result, they are the world’s leading supplier of automotive perception solutions.