The Different ‘Welcomes’ Entrepreneurs Get in Different Countries

It’s been about a decade since I started my professional life as an investor. So far, I’ve been focusing on financial services, real estate, and tech startups. In the early stages, I took part in (and developed) companies in my homeland Romania, the UK, Germany, and several other nations. Two of those were fintech companies, which were eventually sold. After so, I decided to direct my efforts into building Key Way Group — a hub for ideas and entrepreneurship in the financial field. Back then, I already had experience communicating with regulatory bodies and official agencies in various markets and countries.

Towards the end of 2018, I started exploring the opportunities in the Persian Gulf area, especially in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), which was becoming one of the most dynamic markets in the world. To progress, I needed to address the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) and the ADGM (Abu Dhabi Global Markets regulator), among other local official institutes. I would like to share my experience and impression of the local bureaucratic process in the UAE to assist anyone who is also planning to explore this market.

Doing business in the Persian Gulf countries
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The Persian Gulf countries show how it’s done right

I started my inquiry online by researching local market regulators. My first contact with the official bodies in charge of financial conduct was done online via their websites and LinkedIn accounts. I received a reply several days later and set up meetings with the financial market regulators in both Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Being new to this highly regulated financial market, I found the AGDM helpful, granting support and details about the process of obtaining a trading license in the UAE. As part of this process, I met with representatives from the FSRA (Financial Services Regulatory Authority). A few days later, I started the onboarding procedure — once again, mostly digitally.

Regulation
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Business in the UAE

Overall, I found this procedure approachable and efficient while remaining professional. The ADGM and FSRA are thorough. This also means that you, as an entrepreneur, must meet all commercial and business criteria presented by them, including a detailed business model and long-term goals. They also assessed my financial status and previous experience, ensuring my business history was clean of any suspicious activity.

It seems that the authorities in the UAE have adopted a pro-business approach. I wish I would see a similar appetite for business in my home country, Romania.

Romanian economy
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Romania’s entrepreneurial future is on the line

Many countries work hard to attract investors and create a proper framework for development and success. As opposed to this, I often feel that Romanian regulators’ starting position is indifference or suspicion toward businesses that wish to operate in the Romanian market. Romanian regulators tend to express downright distrust and sometimes even hostility towards you as if trying to make you feel guilty for being financially successful.

I, and most of my fellow Romanian entrepreneurs, wish to make our country a top choice for investments. Therefore, I hope to see a positive change in how Romanian regulators treat entrepreneurs. We want Romania to be known as an outsourcing and services base and a center of creativity. For this to happen, Romanian regulators must understand that their profession’s purpose is to enable businesses. We, as entrepreneurs, should remind them of that.

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Angel investor. Real Estate. Fintech

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