Business networking in Dubai

Want help getting your business off the ground? Start networking

Area Guides

Want help getting your business off the ground? Benita Adesuyan finds the networking groups to get in on.

Dubai works hard. Regardless of what industry, Dubaians put in the hours and as such the city is a hub for new businesses opportunities and increasingly the go-to option for those considering a new venture. According to the Dubai Chamber of Commerce, in 2013 more than 7,000 new companies joined the organisation between January 1 and June 30 – a big sign that the business community is regaining its strength. Any bright-eyed Bill Gates of the future will tell you that networking is absolutely vital if you want your business to take off. Here’s our pick of Dubai’s business groups that can help get your idea take flight. Time to get the business cards out and start mingling.

GCC Business Council
This Dubai-based organisation is a platform for small and medium enterprises (SME). Here, entrepreneurs meet to network and share the information and resources they need to help them on the road to expansion. The focus is on supporting SME organisations of all industries across the seven member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Networking events are held on the third Thursday of every month, and every Tuesday, in the emirate. It also hosts ad hoc social events such as speed-networking.
Dhs2,000 annual membership. Tue 7.30pm. Weekly networking events at Dome Café, DIFC. Third Thursdays, 7.30pm, locations vary. Register at (056 282 9500).

Start Up Grind Dubai
This initiative is sponsored by Google as a global project designed to support, educate and inspire entrepreneurs. The Dubai chapter was started by Christine Souffrant, a Haitian-American with seven years business management experience. The Start Up Grind hosts friendly networking events every month where the focus is on making friends as well as contacts, and enabling start-ups to tap into resources in the city and create a supportive entrepreneurial community. The Grind is open to all industries and sectors and previous events have hosted guest speakers from local companies such as Duplays and
From Dhs55. Various locations. Register at

Dubai Business Breakfast
For early risers, this group meets before the working day gets started. The members come together twice a month. On the last Wednesday of the month they host a breakfast, and every second Wednesday they have an evening session. The group mainly operates from and gatherings are free to attend – you just pay for your own coffee and croissants. The focus is on building networks across industries and is open to all sectors. Each meeting is attended by a guest speaker, and is followed by a Q&A session. This is quite a new group and on average there are 20-30 people attending the regular breakfasts, which makes for more effective networking.
Free. 7.15am-8.45am. Radisson Blu, Dubai Media City. Register at (no number).

Business in Heels
Business in Heels organises events for women. Attracting females from a variety of sectors such as marketing, fashion, finance, and property. It aims to create an informal atmosphere in which to network. Events often have goodie bags for attendants and numbers are limited so the event gets pretty busy. The group was founded by Australian entrepreneur and former model Jac Bowie and the Dubai branch started up in February. This community aims to establish network events that are a sassy and fun way for women to meet other successful females.
Dhs128 for events. Various locations. Register at

International Business Women’s Group Dubai
A well-established business group in Dubai, IBWG has been offering support to women in all areas of business for more than 25 years. The group gives personal and professional development advice as well as networking opportunities. Application criteria is more selective, as all members must be decision-makers in their field (entrepreneurs, proprietors, partners, directors, general managers and senior level management). New members have to be nominated by an existing member unless they are new to Dubai. The group holds monthly lunches with guest speakers, business breakfasts, workshops and mentoring programmes.
Dhs400 annual fee. Various locations. Register to join at (050 657 8445).

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