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Opportunity knocks: Which industries will be booming in 2032?

Maybe you’re starting a business today. Maybe next year. Or perhaps you are already trading but you’re wondering if it’s time to pivot.

The question is – what will the business landscape look like ten years from now, and is there a chance to get ahead of the game?

First things first: You would be hard-pressed to find a country that does more future planning than the UAE. In fact, there simply isn’t space to detail every initiative the country has put in place in terms of outlining its goals for the next decade and beyond. Added to that is the relentless drive by the government to encourage SMEs and boost the culture of entrepreneurship.

So here we’ll look at some of the top industries worldwide predicted to boom over the next 10 years. We’ll pay particular attention to our region and examine where business opportunities for entrepreneurs and SMEs might arise.

The key is sustainability
Worldwide, sustainability is the buzzword. But it’s no trend. From the US to the UK to the UAE, innovation around sustainability is key in powering the future economy.

Back in 2012, the Green Economy Initiative was launched with the aim of the UAE becoming a successful model for how the new green economy might look. Alongside easing environmental concerns, its purpose is also to enhance the country’s competitiveness. All this means the UAE is an ideal place to locate your business to supply green products or technologies.

In fact, the entire Expo2020 site is a blueprint for smart cities and how they might operate. And part of the Expo2020 legacy plans is to ensure that after the six-month event is finished, its benefits live on. So opportunities will abound for those able to offer services around the smart city of the future – because the future is already underway in the UAE.

In addition, the Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030 is there to help elevate Dubai into a global leader for sustainable and innovation-focused companies, while Abu Dhabi’s Environment Vision 2030 seeks to preserve and enhance Abu Dhabi’s natural heritage and use resources more efficiently.

So everything is in place for businesses offering green products and technologies – whether that’s in energy, agriculture, investment, or transport. Even food and beverage, event planning, gardening and landscaping – almost any business can play a role in the sustainable economy.

Here are just a few ideas to get you started.

Car charging stations: The electric vehicle market is going to continue to grow worldwide, and the requirement for recharging stations is only going to increase. Several countries have already set bold goals to revolutionise the types of vehicles we use. We have seen this here in the UAE, where the stated objective is to have 42,000 electric vehicles on the streets by 2030.

Drone delivery: This might seem a long way off, but Amazon’s Prime Air is already making inroads in drone delivery. The MENA region is seeing major investment in this area – in fact, innovation in transportation/logistics is one of the most highly funded areas. The implications for those in or entering e-commerce are huge, with the chance to be an early mover in the drive to transform how deliveries are made.

Robotics: If you’re an entrepreneur just starting out, it might seem like robotics is just the world of tech giants. But what about repairs? Or rentals? The scope for add-on services for robotics will grow over the next 10 years as robotics finds even greater application in a variety of settings, particularly healthcare, agriculture, and household/garden. It’s worth noting that from 2015 to 2018, the UAE received USD 21bn in FDI in the areas of robotics and artificial intelligence (AI), which is thought to be among the highest in the world.
3D printing: In 2016, the Dubai 3D Printing Strategy was launched with the goal to become a major world hub for 3D printing technology by 2030. For many businesses, 3D printing means they’re able to create a prototype product much more quickly, so using this for your own business or starting a business offering 3D printing services both offer excellent opportunities to get ahead.

Transport revolution: We have already talked about the transport/logistics of home delivery using drones. But Dubai is thinking far beyond that – it’s aiming to transform one-quarter of its total transportation to autonomous by 2030. This is a bold move, and it’s projected to bring in AED 22bn per year through savings around transportation costs, reducing carbon emissions and creating fewer accidents.

UAE mainstays: It goes without saying that retail and hospitality will continue to be major markets for the UAE, along with any future technology which is invented to add to these services. We have already seen the effect of apps on food delivery, and this looks set to continue to evolve. It’s also important to mention that as populations age, services for the elderly, including everything from telemedicine to drone delivery to easy-access transportation, will be increasingly important.

Top industries and your business
No one can predict the future. But if you track both government plans and areas of the economy that are starting to really flourish, you can get a pretty good picture of what the 2032 business landscape might look like.

One thing is certain when it comes to the UAE – the goal of growth is always present. In fact, the UAE is aiming to double the national economy over the next 10 years. That would mean reaching AED 3 trillion by 2031.

So while we can talk about which industries you should be watching, we can also talk about which regions – and the UAE is certainly high on that list. Whether you decide you want to dive right into one of these industries, or perhaps your offering is an add-on that helps enhance an existing product or service, keeping sustainability and innovation in mind will certainly help steer you as you decide on your business idea for today, and for tomorrow.


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