Islamic Finance Islamic Lifestyle

Dubai launches its crowdfunding version of Kickstarter for Shariah-compliant creative projects

The Dubai government on Wednesday (May 19) launched its own platform for individuals and start-ups in the emirate to crowdfund for creative projects.

According to its website, all business ideas are eligible to apply for crowdfunding on Dubai Next except for activities that are not Shariah-compliant.

The platform is operated by government agency Dubai SME as a non-profit and uses the model similar to Kickstarter, the pioneering U.S.-based crowdfunding platform for creative projects.

Like Kickstarter’s all-or-nothing policy, individuals and start-ups on Dubai Next collect only when 100% of the funding goal is reached.

Also like on Kickstarter, campaign owners on Dubai’s platform need only pay a 5% service fee if their projects are successfully funded.

Dubai Next is also a reward-based platform, which means that campaign owners must offer contributors something in return for their backing.

For example, Emirati game design company Floof and Friends, currently behind one of eight active campaigns on Dubai Next, is offering backers a reusable tote bag for a minimum contribution of 100 dirhams.

Dubai Next assesses and must approve of proposed campaigns before they can start raising funds on the platform.

The platform does not mention the minimum and maximum size of campaigns. As a gauge, the current smallest campaign is for 3,500 dirhams and the biggest is for 760,000 dirhams ($207,000), that will go to Innovation Floor, a company affiliated to Dubai SME, to develop its UAE Mission to Mars 3D game/simulator.

As part of its remit to support small enterprises in the emirate, Dubai SME will provide support to launch and grow the businesses behind the campaigns. A statement on the Dubai government media office website explains that the package of incentives includes incubating the idea in the Hamdan Innovator Incubator or in one of the 14 certified incubators in the emirate.

However, you won’t be able to back campaigns if you’re not based in the UAE. Campaign backers must be based in the country and use the Smart Dubai payment gateway to make their contributions.

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