Wednesday 19, April 2017 by Jessica Combes

Thomson Reuters concludes three-day seminar series with UAE-based entrepreneurs


Thomson Reuters concluded the celebration of its 150th anniversary in MENA with the last of its three-day seminar series.


The MENA region, and Dubai in particular, has been a hotspot for the brightest entrepreneurial minds, a topic was explored in three sessions.


The first session looked at the challenges facing entrepreneurs and the discussion also focused on the opportunities related to attracting and retaining talent and the regulatory environment. When asked about the main challenges experienced when hiring talent, Joy Ajlouny, Co-founder of Fetchr, a Dubai-based GPS-driven delivery company, emphasised the difficulty in finding people who love and are passionate about the business as a founder. She said this is especially the case for the millennial generation that is prone to having shorter professional attention spans than their older predecessors; it is important to look at how hungry the person is to help the business succeed, regardless of their educational background.


Ambareen Musa, CEO of, a UAE-based product and service comparison website, commented on how the transient mind set desire to enjoy the comforts of living are not always compatible with the long term view  and lower wages of start-ups, respectively.


Regarding the types of regulatory improvements that can support the start-up ecosystem, Ziad Kamel, Managing Director of Couqley Middle East, said there should be a system where you can test an employee without committing to residency, transportation, visa and other expenses.


Ajlouny agreed, considering that in the US an entrepreneur does not get taxed if their business is not making money. In the UAE, there are a number of regulatory fees, licences and expenses regardless of whether or not the business is generating revenue.


Tarek Ghobar, Start-up Services Manager of 1776, a Dubai-based business incubator, spoke about the need to review the freedom of movement for employees without the 30-day pressure of finding a new job. All panellists were in agreement that Dubai is one of the most vibrant ecosystems for start-ups and entrepreneurs with enormous potential for further development.


The second sessions saw a conversation with Ray Dargham, Co-Founder and CEO of STEP Group, which explored the challenges facing start-ups with respect to the current economic landscape. Dargham delved into his experience with co-founding STEP Group, a Dubai-based media and technology company that owns STEP Conference, which has become the largest gathering for technology, digital and entertainment industries in the MENA region.


Fund raising remains the core objective for the start-up, to facilitate organic growth, which Ray sees as crucial to uphold quality and customer commitment as well as valuable engagement opportunities, according to Dargham, who added that Dubai has proved to be a pioneer in supporting start-ups, and should encourgae the rest of the region to catch up in terms of infrastructure and fee processes, among other factors.


In the third session moderated by Nicoletta Papakyprianou, Vice President of Human Resources at Thomson Reuters MENA, the participants discussed how businesses can attract and retain talent, while understanding generational challenges in our region.


Edward Matti, Managing Partner of CCM Consultancy, commented on the need to prepare the new generation joining the work force through incorporating practical learning schemes into the classroom, while also collaborating with companies to create an immersive experience.


Henrik Jonson, Head of Employer Engagement and Career Development at INSEAD, commented on generation Y embracing technology, stating that they need to leverage their ability to use their notion of being tech-savvy in the work place.



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