Male Youth Entrepreneurship in the UAE: a Research Project

Male Youth Entrepreneurship in the UAE: Questions, Challenges and a Path for Development 

This is an outline of a research project we will be conducting this semester with our research assistant (who will be doing the majority of the work, although we will be there to guide him every step of the way). Yousef will be signing up for wamda where you will be able to follow the progression of the project (posts in English and Arabic). From time to time he will do a guest blog for me as well.

There are many underlying objectives of this project, including creating knowledge in an area which has been under-researched in the UAE and wider MENA region. Of course it is also to say - STOP with the high-paid, fly-in consultants and develop local talent and local knowledge. Also, it is to spread the joy of research to a high-potential student :)

Executive Summary

This internship proposal outlines research to be conducted in the UAE on Male Youth Entrepreneurship, and provide the steps that will need to be taken to gather the relevant information and data required to provide an effective road map to encourage creativity and entrepreneurial activity amongst Emirati male youth.

The supervisory team consists of Constance Van Horne and Victor Huang, two professors of management doing research in the field of innovation and entrepreneurship, and an Emirati research assistant/intern, Yousef Rashed Al Shehhi, a graduating student in the College of Business at Zayed University with a specialization in Human Resource Management, to perform directed secondary and primary research, develop a report with recommendations and prepare a presentation for interested stakeholders.

Purpose of the Research

The UAE is similar to the Arab world in that the majority of the local population is under the age of 24. Although there appears to be an abundance of resources, full and gainful employment of local Emiratis is and will remain to be a challenge in the coming decades. The reluctance of the private sector to hire Emirati youth, coupled with the saturation of government positions by mid-age Emiratis, foreshadows a great need for future entrepreneurial activity – self-employment – by today’s youth.

The challenge is complex, both because youth entrepreneurship in the Arab world in general, and in the UAE in particular, is little understood and the blueprints developed and used in other parts of the world are not suitable for the local cultural, economic, social and environmental context.

According to the data from the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor report in 2011, the vast majority of Emirati early stage entrepreneurs choose to become entrepreneurs due to opportunity recognition and the desire for independence and autonomy, rather than through necessity or economic need. Although there is no current data or research on Emirati youth and the motivations for starting their own businesses, anecdotal evidence from Zayed University students, suggests that they are motivated by passion for their idea or project, a craving for independence and a craving to be well known as a successful business person – a “self-made” success.

Although this seems to be widely “known” and accepted that these are the motivators for Emirati youth, there is almost a complete lack of understanding of how to get from spark – to fully formed idea – to business model development – to financing – to opening the doors for business.

However, an understanding of the motivations and possible incentives is only part of the story. The sustainable economic, social, cultural and environmental needs of the UAE, and its diverse regions, need to be understood to develop “incentives” and guidelines for future Emirati entrepreneurs to follow and be inspired by.

This proposed research will combine field research with local Emirati male youth from across the UAE, combined with an analysis of the strategic plans of the UAE to develop a portrait of the motivators of Emirati youth towards entrepreneurship and a framework of industries, regions and types of small business which should be encouraged. This framework would combine the strategic visions of the nation as well as the stated interests and passions of Emirati youth themselves – what they dream of creating and becoming.

Research tools

The research team will conduct interviews with identified key Emirati young entrepreneurs and Emirati youth advocates. Focus groups of Emirati high school students interested in entrepreneurship will also be conducted (in Fujairah and Abu Dhabi). Interviews with educational, support institutions and parents will also be conducted. This qualitative research will be combined with a review of the longitudinal UAE GEM data from 2006-2011 and an analytical review of the pertinent Strategic Plans of the Nation.


The deliverables will be a final report to be "published" through i-books, a pilot-lesson plan to motivate young males on the possibilities of entrepreneurship and a formal presentation to interested stakeholders.


  1. Nice hope will be good work and hope to ahcive something grate

    Good luck for my friend Yousef in this project

    In the last, it will be realy excellent project because of Cony and Victor (Insha Allah)

    Good luck :)

    1. Thank you Ebm! En'shallah all will go well and we will all learn a lot from it :)