Sunday 26 September 2021 - 4:02:05 pm

Sheraa, Ministry of Culture and Youth call for high-impact start-ups across MENA to boost UAE’s creative economy

  • بدور القاسمي تحتفي بمنجزات
  • الإمارات وفرنسا تبحثان تعزيز التعاون الثنائي في القطاع الثقافي
  • "شراع" يطلق "استديو الشارقة للشركات الناشئة"

SHARJAH, 15th September, 2021 (WAM) -- The Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre (Sheraa) and the Ministry of Culture and Youth have launched the Access Sharjah Challenge with an equity-free prize pool of $100,000 open to top start-ups from across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA).

Inspired by the United Nations General Assembly’s declaration of 2021 as the International Year of Creative Economy for Sustainable Development, the competition is in line with Sheraa’s mission to support start-ups in the creative sectors. It supports innovative, creative, and tech-savvy start-ups from around the region by connecting them with the private and public sectors to reach their target market and stimulate innovation in the UAE.

In a strategic partnership with the Sharjah Museums Authority, Alef Group and Air Arabia, the competition is looking for innovative start-ups operating in the following sectors under the creative industry: Cultural and Natural Heritage; Performance and Celebration; Visual Arts and Crafts; Audio Visual and Interactive Media; Design and Creative Services; and Books and Press.

Start-ups fulfilling the following criteria are encouraged to apply; the start-up should be revenue-generating, have at least one successful implementation of its solution, one full-time founder and headquartered in the MENA region.

The challenge offers myriad benefits, starting with a grant of up to $50,000, composing of $25,000 towards an implementation contract to bring their projects to life at Alef properties and Sharjah Museum spaces, $15,000 in cash and $10,000 towards business setup support, in addition to operational business support services including discounted office space and banking services, mentoring from Sheraa’s in-house team and their community of mentors, and access to market.

Applications for the challenge are now open and will be accepted until 10th October, 2021. Ten finalists will be shortlisted and will receive the opportunity to pitch their ideas and innovations on stage at the upcoming Sharjah Entrepreneurship Festival (SEF). The winners will be announced at the World Conference on Creative Economy (WCCE) 2021, organised by the Ministry of Culture and Youth, held at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Interested start-ups can apply on Sheraa’s official website at

Bodour Al Qasimi, Chairperson of the Sharjah Entrepreneurship Centre said, "The underlying objective of this challenge is to allow the top start-ups in the creative and cultural fields to benefit from the growth opportunities in our innovative- and impact-driven local economy, which has succeeded in bringing new ideas to life in a variety of sectors – from heritage, art, culture and design to media, publishing, photography and film making."

Bodour Al Qasimi emphasised that the Access Sharjah Challenge pays homage to the emirate’s deep-rooted history and leadership across various creative sectors, while promoting its stimulating and holistic environment to pursue conscious entrepreneurship.

Commenting on the initiative, Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, Minister of Culture and Youth, said, "This initiative contributes to our collective mission to help our youth leverage opportunities that the Cultural and Creative Industries offer. These industries have huge potential to help overcome economic and social challenges arising from the COVID-19 pandemic, and reinforce the UAE’s resilience and adaptability in the face of the rapid changes we are facing today."

Najla Al Midfa, CEO of Sheraa, commented, "The Access Sharjah Challenge was created to support the growth of MENA’s high-calibre start-ups by offering them a platform to impact not just their communities, but the world at large."

Manal Ataya, Director-General of the Sharjah Museums Authority (SMA), asserted that the SMA’s support for the project launched by Sheraa to empower emerging companies, is in harmony with the SMA’s commitment to collaborate and partner with organisations that promote innovation and the emirate’s position as a leading platform for pioneering entrepreneurship.

She pointed out that being committed to the directives of His Highness Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, regarding the importance of investing in future generations and sustainable solutions in order to enhance the development of the cultural sector, the SMA has always focused on supporting creativity, encouraging knowledge and innovation, and developing the potential of youth.

Adel Ali, Group Chief Executive Officer of Air Arabia, said, "The Access Sharjah Challenge initiative aims to support and connect innovative start-ups in Sharjah to build a better future."

Issa Ataya, CEO of Alef Group, said, "Alef Group is delighted to partner with Sheraa in promoting innovative start-ups and entrepreneurs that have the potential to scale up and be part of a growing SME ecosystem in Sharjah, boosting the emirate’s position as a leading hub for entrepreneurship."

WAM/Tariq alfaham/Hatem Mohamed