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Abu Dhabi courts celebrity investors to make its mark

Idris Elba was among the celebrities at the Hub71 Impact Summit who see the potential in investing in Abu Dhabi Hub71
Idris Elba was among the celebrities at the Hub71 Impact Summit who see the potential in investing in Abu Dhabi
  • Celebrities at Abu Dhabi startup event
  • ‘A lot of room for investment’
  • Sectors include sports and education

Abu Dhabi is increasingly turning to celebrities, from actors and comedians to boxers and writers, to increase its presence on the world stage.

The UAE’s capital has attracted entrepreneurs from around the world who are investing and expanding their businesses in the emirate.

Among the latest to announce plans to invest in Abu Dhabi are the actor Idris Elba, South African comedian Trevor Noah and the UK boxer Tommy Fury and former boxer Amir Khan.

All were speaking at the Hub71 Impact Event 2024 on February 27. Hub71 is an Abu Dhabi company that connects startups with investors. The event was supported by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, the government entity responsible for attracting and facilitating investment.

Fury has plans to invest in real estate and launch sports academies. He said there was “a lot of room for investment” in Abu Dhabi. “The debate is still on whether to launch the sports academy in Dubai, but I would like it to be here in Abu Dhabi,” he told AGBI.

Elba announced plans to build educational and healthcare institutions in the emirate, alongside investments in the fishing industry.

“This part of the world has some of the most innovative progressive thinkers and it demonstrates what is possible,” Elba said.

Amir Khan already has a successful venture in Dubai, the Amir Khan Boxing Academy, and is expanding to Abu Dhabi, believing it has potential for business growth. 

He plans to launch a fitness centre and explore investment opportunities in sports and real estate.

Khan said he appreciated the capital’s supportive environment for entrepreneurial endeavours: “Launching in Abu Dhabi is a must, because it’s definitely worth it, he told AGBI.

Khan said part of Abu Dhabi’s appeal as an investment destination was its cost-effectiveness compared with other global cities such as London, New York and Mumbai. “The real estate sector in these cities is more expensive than in Abu Dhabi and the UAE,” he said.

Fury said that entrepreneurs should come over: “Book the flight, make the trip and have those investor meetings in Abu Dhabi because if there’s anywhere to do a deal, it’s definitely here in the Middle East.”

Noah, Fury, Khan and Elba are not the first well-known names to throw their celebrity weight behind promoting the emirate.

Last year, Abu Dhabi turned to Aquaman actor Jason Momoa to drive up visitor numbers to Yas Island and increase international tourism.

In 2022 the author Deepak Chopra, the former French footballer Patrice Evra and the former American basketball player Metta Sandiford-Artest signed letters of commitment to establish businesses in the emirate.

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