Lessons from the Middle East


In the soft embrace of dawn, Business Bay in Dubai shimmered with golden hues. Amidst the distant hum of engines and clinking metal, the soulful call to prayer filled the air. It was Ramadan, a period of spiritual reflection. Nassir Criss embarked on a personal awakening in Dubai, eager to uncover the layers of culture, innovation, and opportunity that the city had to offer.

A Transformative Journey

Recently, Nassir represented a U.S. delegation in the United Arab Emirates, thanks to EVCA, a renowned venture investor networking organization. This trip transformed his perspective, with insightful meetings across Dubai and Abu Dhabi illuminating the vast opportunities within the region.

Embracing Hospitality and Enthusiasm

From the moment he set foot in the UAE, Nassir felt embraced by its warmth and hospitality. Interacting with entrepreneurs, tech leaders, or government officials, everyone radiated genuine enthusiasm. This environment was a refreshing change, celebrating innovation while cherishing cultural roots.

Abu Dhabi’s Visionary Outlook

His first destination was Abu Dhabi, the UAE’s bustling capital and financial center. Here, Nassir discovered a city with a resolute vision for technological and innovative advancements. Initiatives like Hub71 have solidified Abu Dhabi’s position as a global tech hub, offering unparalleled support for startups and entrepreneurs. Nassir was particularly struck by the city’s focus on making a meaningful impact, emphasizing sustainability alongside profitability.

Dubai’s Entrepreneurial Spirit

In Dubai, Nassir delved into the city’s entrepreneurial spirit through platforms like the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC) and Dubai’s Future District Fund (DFDF). These initiatives foster innovation and provide startups with the capital they need to thrive. Such forward-thinking has turned Dubai into a magnet for global talent and investment.

Living the Dubai Lifestyle

Beyond the boardrooms, Dubai’s lifestyle is as exhilarating as its business landscape. From heart-racing desert safaris to lavish dining experiences, the city encourages living life to its fullest. Nassir also had the privilege of exploring the city with his great friend, Riley, who showcased the city’s hidden gems and even led a memorable night of karaoke at a Filipino dive bar.

Bridging Worlds – Charting the Path Forward

Reflecting on his journey, Nassir saw parallels between nurturing a thriving ecosystem in the Middle East and supporting emerging global founders. The Middle East, he observed, is keen to extend its global footprint while reinforcing its local roots. Through genuine relationships and collaborative efforts, Nassir believes innovation and entrepreneurship can be democratized, uplifting emerging regions worldwide.

Final Thoughts

The Middle East, with its juxtaposition of bustling tech hubs and rich cultural heritage, offers invaluable insights. Nassir is excited about the future, looking forward to exploring more of the people, places, and ideas shaping innovation in the region.

As the Dubai sun casts its warm glow over the horizon at day’s end, Nassir feels a blend of wonder and anticipation. The Middle East is rising, and he feels privileged to have been part of this incredible journey. Here’s to many more adventures and discoveries in this vibrant region!


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