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Make Your Presence Felt: Here's Why You Should Take Advantage Of The UAE's Digital Domain Space At a time when every dirham counts, a premium domain is the best way to put your money to work for you.

By Ramzi Al Mubarak

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Abu Dhabi's government is working relentlessly to position the city as an international hub, from providing world-class business and educational facilities, to supporting startup entrepreneurs.

For instance, launched last week, the Mohammed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) is the first graduate-level university in the world with a focus on AI, aiming to empower the future workforce in a changing digital landscape.

Advances on the entrepreneurship front are equally remarkable. With an investment of AED1 billion, Hub71, launched earlier this year, aims to accelerate the local economy by attracting and supporting tech startups and innovators.

On the government front, the UAE was ranked first regionally and fifth globally by the International Institute for Management Development (IMD) in this year's World Competitiveness Yearbook. It was also ranked first in the world for its significant advances in business efficiency and digital transformation.

Just last week, the Abu Dhabi Digital Authority (ADDA) signed an agreement with California-based technology firm Hewlett Packard (HP) to help improve the services provided to residents and accelerate the execution of data management programs.

The country has further reinforced its position in the digital economy, supported by multiple factors including improvements in information technology infrastructure, the introduction of 5G networks, and significant government support for digital transformation.

The recently launched "u.ae" domain, in addition to the ".abudhabi" and ".ae" domains, helps position the UAE as a global economic hub, thus supporting the National Agenda's long-term objectives. The "u.ae" domain, which is the government's official portal, is also the first government domain in the world that consists of a single letter.

Why are these investments in and the advancement of technology so important? As technology continues to intertwine with everyday life, the domain space is also rapidly changing, expanding, and becoming more important. Securing a prominent domain name means that we own a presence online, and investing in the right address has the same benefits as investing in the right piece of land.

Related: The Future Is Now: The UAE Is All Set To Be A Leading Destination For AI Investment

But the thing is, some entrepreneurs may not pay as much attention to choosing the right domain or extension for their websites as they give to their products or services, neglecting important information such as ease of spelling or pronunciation. The easier a domain is to remember, the easier it is for your customers to find you, reach you, and ultimately conduct business with you. Harder domains make customer retention more difficult.

To put this in perspective, last month the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) was held on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island and was one of the largest sport events in the Middle East. Following the Russian Nurmagomedov Khabib's UFC 242 title win and HH Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed's, the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, personal congratulation of the reigning champion, UFC President Dana White stated how the UFC and MMA will eventually be the biggest sport in the world, with Abu Dhabi playing a key role in achieving that.

The word "Khabib" has gained an average of more than 1.12 million hits per month on Google in the past 12 months. And according to the 2018 "Year in Search," a compilation of all the things that spark Internet users' curiosity, sports and celebrities dominated the search bars in the UAE.

This is where searchability and having the right domain could mean a lot of business, especially in the sports and entertainment sectors. In 2009, "horse.ae" was sold for AED6 million, which has been described as a record sale that put the UAE on par with some of the highest domain prices in the world at the time.

A couple of years later in 2012, "luxurycars.ae" and "luxuriouscars.ae" started at auction with a value of €15 million. Imagine how much domains reflecting key events in the city could be valued at? For instance, "khabib.abudhabi" and "supercars.abudhabi" could potentially serve the promotional purpose of major events and be valuable investments.

Events such as the UFC, Formula 1 Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, and Abu Dhabi's first collector car auction by Sotheby's to take place during the Grand Prix next month, draw a significant amount of attention to Abu Dhabi's digital identity in the virtual world.

At a time when every dirham counts, a premium domain is the best way to put your money to work for you.

Related: The How-To: Setting Up A Business In Abu Dhabi

Ramzi Al Mubarak is an Emirati risk and valuation professional, and an entrepreneur by passion, with a decade of experience working within the ins-and-outs of start-ups and financial services. His ventures, Fun Ride Sports and BeSport, are one of the first bike rental platforms in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which garnered a large fan base, as well as regional coverage.

Overseen by the Abu Dhabi Investment Council, he was part of the core team that launched Al Hilal Bank from the ground-up which subsequently received the 'Quality Appreciation Award', presented during the Sheikh Khalifa Excellence Award in 2011 - the UAE's most prestigious business excellence award. 

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