A young Lebanese tech entrepreneur tells how the golden UAE visa changed his life

A young mobile apps entrepreneur whose career dreams were shattered by Lebanon’s economic crisis has turned his fortunes around after getting a golden visa to the United Arab Emirates.

Jake El Mir, 20, released his first app at just 12 and was enjoying a remarkable rise to success in the tech industry.

But the collapse of the Lebanese economy has left his future uncertain, as his business has often been left without electricity or internet access as power cuts have wrecked the country.

He had expressed an interest in the UAE Long-Term Residency Program, which aims to attract outstanding talent from various sectors around the world.

He received a life-changing call in July, inviting him to apply for a 10-year residency visa under the entrepreneurship category.

Mr. El Mir has now moved to the Emirates and relishes the chance to not only grow his business but also help other Lebanese.

At the top of his game

“Just a few months ago I was trying to run my business without electricity and I couldn’t even attend meetings due to no internet sometimes and now I’m in the UAE with so many opportunities in front of me,” he said. The National.

“This call has really changed my life. I can’t wait to start my new business.

“I didn’t want to move to the United States or somewhere too far because my family is in Lebanon. The United Arab Emirates has always been a second home for us and it’s where my work has always been recognized. »

The visa was granted because of his work in the technology sector, in which he developed a series of popular mobile applications.

At 17, he founded his first company Driple, a mobile game studio for celebrities and influencers. The company has created interactive games for social media stars such as Just Sul, Payton and Emma Cartiz.

The studio’s debut game topped the charts in 73 countries, with a track downloaded over 200,000 times.

Give others the opportunity

“It’s great that the UAE has always recognized my work. It’s not something I was able to get in my own country,” Mr El Mir said.

“But I still want to do something for Lebanon. I am hiring remote workers from my home country to give them opportunities.

Lebanon’s economy collapsed in 2020 after the government defaulted on around $31 billion in Eurobonds, sinking its currency by more than 90% against the dollar on the black market.

The country of 6.8 million people has faced inflation of up to 155% in 2021, with 80% of the population living below the poverty line.

“Things were really unstable. There was a shooting for a day in another city and one of my investors, who had given me a $1 million budget to create a mobile app, pulled out because he thought his investments were not safe,” he said.

“Another issue I faced was when I was shortlisted for a $100,000 grant by PayPal, but I couldn’t do the interview because the internet kept working.

“That’s why I’m so happy that countries like the UAE provide opportunities for young entrepreneurs like me.”

The United Arab Emirates launched its Golden Visa program in 2018 to attract skilled workers.

The program has since expanded to include a range of people, including high achievers, skilled professionals, doctors and nurses, and those in creative fields.

The 10-year residency program allows beneficiaries to sponsor their spouse, parents and children.

Mr. El Mir moved to Dubai about a month ago and founded a new technology holding group called 22group.co, which already has 15 employees.

It includes Driple and two other companies that Mr. El Mir is working to develop.

“Groupe 22’s goal is to create digital experiences that move the world towards a better future. We have raised funds from investors in the United Arab Emirates and will share more information about the projects soon,” Mr. El Mir said.

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Updated: April 27, 2022, 03:30

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