Business ideas

The Best Gulf-Based Business Ideas for 2021 and Beyond

There is no doubt that Covid-19 has impacted economies around the world. But while the pandemic has brought challenges, it has also uncovered new opportunities.

The race for a new way of doing business has given us insight into the types of businesses likely to succeed in the post-Covid world. These include:

· Virtual learning

· Online sales support

· Cleaning services

· Application development

· Repairs

After a setback comes healing. And with the UAE aiming to be the fastest recovering economy in the world, there’s no better place to start your business.

Five sustainable business ideas

Tomorrow’s businesses must be agile and adaptable, embracing digital and virtual technologies to avoid disruptions as much as possible. With that in mind, here are five business ideas that are likely to thrive in 2021 and beyond.

1. Online teaching – providing virtual support for learners at all levels

Schools and universities have been among the hardest hit by the coronavirus, with exams canceled and face-to-face classes postponed, in some cases indefinitely.

The United Arab Emirates was among several countries to implement mandatory distance learning. As a result, students rely on virtual classrooms and online education to further their education. A recent report from the European Commission revealed that:

· 95% of higher education institutions have implemented online or distance learning courses

· 83% have implemented online assessments

As students become accustomed to virtual learning, there is increasing opportunity for those with the skills to complete formal education through online tutoring and teaching.

And, with the right support, it’s easy to get started. All you need is a laptop, an internet connection and proven qualifications in your chosen field.

2. Online advice – share your business knowledge from screen to screen

Just as the education sector has had to move from face-to-face to screen-to-screen, so has much of the business world.

As early as March, the BBC reported that a quarter of the world’s population was under lockdown restrictions.

Almost overnight, businesses around the world have been tasked with moving to virtual environments, with business owners, employees, suppliers and many more working remotely. For many, this turned out to be an eye-opening experience.

More and more companies are now realizing what many already knew – that virtual working is just as productive, if not more so, than the traditional desktop-based approach.

Skilled consultants can capitalize on this new confidence in virtual support by offering online services and consultations.

3. Cleaning services – a long-term opportunity

Cleaning businesses have understandably seen an increase in trade since the spread of the coronavirus. Sanitation is now more important than ever as more of us venture out of lockdown to workplaces, cafes and hotels.

The world’s largest hotel companies have all announced comprehensive new cleaning manuals in response to the coronavirus.

This increase in commercial-grade cleaning is unlikely to subside anytime soon. Employees, travelers, consumers and commuters are now all acutely aware of the presence of bacteria and the potential for the spread of viruses.

For cafes, bars, employers, workspaces, hotels and vacation rentals, the only way to restore trust is to ensure the highest level of cleanliness possible. If you are able to provide this level of sanitation, you will likely see a demand for your services for many years to come.

4. App development – the already rapid digital transformation is set to accelerate

The apps industry is one of many to thrive during the coronavirus lockdown. And now that consumers know what’s possible, they’re very unlikely to want to go back to the old way of doing things.

Residents of the UAE have turned to apps to get their fix of everything from food and grocery delivery, to e-learning, health and fitness, remote working and even mental health support.

Apps that exploded during lockdown include:

· Duolingo – learn a language

· Head space – Mindfulness and meditation

· Instant Shop – home shopping delivery service

· Zoom – video conference

· MyFitnessPal – health, fitness and nutrition tracking

In response to a “new normal”, low-code app development has also rapidly gained popularity in recent months. These apps, which can be built with minimal coding knowledge, are here to stay and have lowered the barriers to entry for a new generation of developers.

5. Repairs – the throwaway generation is no more

The repair industry has grown steadily in recent years, primarily due to environmental concerns.

The disposable generation is over: today’s consumers are once again happy to repair rather than replace.

Lockdown measures have led to a further increase in the use of repair services, as more of us seek to use what we already have, whether it’s fixing a troublesome computer, a broken bike or a faulty kayak.

Additionally, the auto repair market has remained relatively stable throughout the pandemic, with signs of growth in 2021.

A recent McKinsey report suggests that a decrease in new car sales, an increase in the use of personal vehicles relative to public transport and a drop in the price of fuel could create greater opportunities for repair services in the years to come.

A look beyond recovery

Naturally, most current forecasts focus on the immediate future – the year of recovery. However, the coronavirus pandemic has likely fundamentally changed the way we live and work in many ways.

Businesses that thrive immediately aftertapping into this new normal, are likely to be the ones that last the distance.

Regardless of your industry, staying flexible and embracing digital technologies will be essential. We may be living a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But unprecedented times bring with them unprecedented lessons, and tomorrow’s entrepreneurs must seize the opportunity to learn.

Anisha Sagar is the Managing Director of Business Incorporation Zone (BIZ)