Every year, a singular protagonist soars into the collective psyche of a people. While Time Magazine might have decreed Facebook's Zuckerberg its choice, 'entrepreneurship' has emerged centre-stage in the UAE (39 this year), but not without its worthy nemeses.
Several magnanimous events galvanised this new-found entrepreneurial thirst, and it rapidly became en vogue for smaller stories to be celebrated across mass media channels. In Dubai, there was an unprecedented re-emergence of the city's beginnings as a business hub with a promise of a new breed of entrepreneurs. This was further fuelled by another sub-plot that reflects its global counterpart: the rise of social media this year.
Pull back the legendary 'boom' decade, Dubai seemed to have gradually gone from being an incubator of 'small ideas' that can grow big, to one that supported only 'big ideas' that can grow even bigger. This year marked an attempted return to small ideas once again. However, the city's presiding trader-mindset is still disproportionately elevated to the single most important tenet of its business psyche. While 2010's renewed zeal has catalysed real dialog between budding entrepreneurs and investors, bigger paradigm-shifts have yet to follow suit. Entrepreneurs that are not traders still find themselves on roads less travelled; essentially, outliers with little precedent to fall back on. Dubai has a lot more to offer than re-exported goods and plots of land on man-made islands.
To compound the trade-elitism in play, the term 'entrepreneur' made its debut into the mainstream this year. But with little education, scarce legislative support for startups and virtually no incubation opportunities, here's hoping the sustainability of this new found fixation will not suffer the fate of the proverbial bubble we are all too familiar with in Dubai.
Having said that, the catalysts for creating an entrepreneurial revolution have arrived, and are set to change the landscape in 2011.