Overview and Objectives of Dubai SME 100

Launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of Dubai Executive Council, Dubai SME100 identifies the top-performing SMEs in Dubai to help groom them into bigger and more sustainable enterprises, and to support them in their growth into larger and internationally oriented companies. More than just a ranking, the objective of Dubai SME 100 is to inspire willing and able SMEs that have the potential to be world-class enterprises, to invest in innovation and people, and to sustain growth. The ranking also serves as a tool for helping SMEs identify capability gaps for improvement. This is the primary added value of Dubai SME 100: the ultimate outcome is for Dubai to have more growth-oriented, innovative, capable, and sustainable enterprises that can fly the UAE flag high.


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To be eligible for the Dubai SME 100 ranking, an enterprise should meet the threshold defined by the official definition of SMEs in Dubai as shown below.


An SME is defined as an entity engaged in an economic activity, with a legal form (registered as a business either with a commercial registry like the DED or with a free or industrial zone) and meets the thresholds of employee headcount and turnover as applicable to the industry group it belongs to (Trading / Manufacturing / Services), as specified by MBRE.




Type of company The enterprise must be a for-profit business.
Presence The enterprise must be registered in Dubai, either with Department of Economic Development or with a free zone authority in Dubai.
Existence The enterprise must be in existence in Dubai for a minimum period of 3 years at the time of application.
Audited Financial Statements
The enterprise must disclose audited financial statements for the past 3 years for the purpose of screening and follow up application.
Willingness to Participate
Once shortlisted for evaluation, the enterprise must participate in the process of discussions, interviews, site visits, etc. and must furnish supporting details as required.


Application, & Ranking Process and Post-ranking Activities

  • Interested SMEs can register by completing a standard registration form
  • Eligible SMEs will receive a registration number, username, and password from SME 100
  • SMEs then login to the website and fill an application form providing more business details
  • Applicants are shortlisted based on financial parameters and invited for further participation
  • Shortlisted SMEs would be visited by SME 100 for further evaluation of other parameters
  • Final evaluation by SME 100 team to arrive at Top 100 SMEs in Dubai
  • Announcement of Dubai SME 100 Rankings for 2013
  • SMEs that have been evaluated are given feedback on scores and areas for improvement
  • Finally, Post-ranking account management and capability development of SME100 firms

Evaluation Themes

The Dubai SME 100 evaluation themes have been developed through careful research and deliberation on enterprise performance. Many global enterprise ranking systems and international excellence models were studied, and the most appropriate ranking system for Dubai SMEs were developed, keeping them in line with the overall strategies for Dubai SME Development and the objectives of the ranking program. This ranking system is designed to be an annual ranking system.Unlike most ranking systems that use mainly financial measures to rank enterprises, the Dubai SME 100 is ranked based on a weighted combination of financial and non-financial themes.

There are two financial parameters: Growth Performance and Financial Soundness. Non-financial parameters include: Innovation, Human Capital Development, International Orientation and Corporate Excellence.



Growth Performance

Growth performance refers to the growth of the SME applicant in terms of business performance, measured over a period of 3 years. Growth performance measurement entails:

  • Growth in sales: cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) in total sales over the 3 years
  • Growth in net profit: cumulative annual growth rate (CAGR) in net profit over the 3 years

Financial Soundness

Financial Soundness indicates the current financial strength of the SME’s business. The assessment of financial soundness is based on a combination of various financial ratios including: return (Return on Net worth, Return on Total Assets), liquidity (Current), leverage (Debt to Equity) and cash flow (Cash Flow to Sales).


Defined as a new way of doing something or “new stuff made useful,” it may refer to incremental and emergent or radical and revolutionary changes in thinking, products, processes, or organisations.
Refers to both the process of doing something new and the output or result arising from the innovative actions. Innovation may be linked to performance and growth through improvements in efficiency, productivity, quality, competitive positioning, or market share.

Human Capital Development

Defined as the knowledge, skills, competencies, and attributes embodied in individuals that facilitate the creation of personal, social, and economic well-being.
In the business context, it includes the competencies and commitments of people within an organisation, such as their skills, experience, potential and capacity. It can be a source of competitive advantage for organisations.

International Orientation

Includes the firm’s efforts to sell goods and services on the global market, and includes international outreach through joint ventures, alliances, distributorships, agency arrangements, and others.

Corporate Governance

While underpinned by the principles of openness, integrity, and accountability, it is about the management and control of companies, providing a framework that defines the rights, roles, and responsibilities of various groups. Companies will be assessed on the presence of advisory board, documentation of rights, roles and structure of the board of trustees, effectiveness of management, and control and documentation of key policies and procedures.
This theme will also measure the efforts a company has dedicated towards achieving corporate excellence as demonstrated by awards, quality certifications and desired Emiratisation levels.

Scoring Principle

The performance of the SMEs on various parameters within the themes will be assigned a score from 0 to 5. Parameter scores will be aggregated to arrive at theme level composite scores for the SMEs. The overall scores will be sorted, analysed and ranked to collate at the Top 100 SMEs in Dubai.
The Dubai SME 100 evaluation team will assign high importance to a consistently balanced performance by an SME across various themes as compared to those SMEs with strong performance in some themes and weak performance in other themes.

The 3I Model

For the evaluation of non-financial themes, applicant SMEs are required to build a strong case for their performance based on the 3I evaluation model. In order to do so, they should provide as much detail with reference to as many parameters as possible.




After ranking, the SMEs are given specialised capability development training in such critical areas as investment development, corporate governance, valuation, legal support and risk management. The ranking is valid for two years.



2013 Ranking





2013 Ranking