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Arab World-the Next Startup Hub?

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Over the last decade, Dubai has been the primary hub for all startups in the Middle East. The number of new ventures in the region has been growing by double-digits, says the Dubai Chamber of Commerce. The reason; business friendly policies and supportive tax regimes, enacted by Dubai government.

Dubai has even managed its stability as a startup haven, undeterred by the war-stricken Middle East and shaky oil prices.

In fact, the war may just have had fueled Dubai’s economy in a subtle way. According to a Report by Financial Times, an increasing number of college graduates are fleeing from Syria and Egypt and making their way into Dubai’s economy in search for a better job and quality of life.

Mobile App “Careem” is a crisp success story from Dubai. Careem was launched by Mudassir Sheikha and Karl Magnus Olsson in 2012 and since then has grown to become a head-on competitor of Uber. Careem started small but is now present in 22 cities across MENA and Asia today. The company is now worth US$60 million.

Souq, an e-commerce site is another feather in the cap for Dubai. Established in 2005, Souq is now the largest e-commerce website in the Arab world. Earlier this year, the company raised about US$275 million from Tiger Global.

While Dubai has acclaimed the biggest tech startups in the Arab world, other countries in MENA region are also striving to follow in Dubai’s footsteps. Such countries, however, belong to the North African Region in places like Tunisia and Egypt.

Progress in the Arab world, however, has been reinforced by an increasing number of consortium and enterprise forums that have actively been arranging startup competitions and conferences. Such competitions encourage the youth to take an initiative towards entrepreneurship.

Recently, MIT Enterprise Forum collaborated with UNHCR and Unicef to institute a startup competition, the theme of which is refugee problems. Young entrepreneurs must come up with product or service solutions to address refugees problems, specifically.  

Even though such projects may be considered as ‘baby steps’, these are bound to grow and yield amazing results in the future.

As the unstable oil prices are giving Arabs a hard time, countries in the ME have resorted to tech sector to stabilize the economy for the future. Saudi Arabia, in a recent attempt to spread out its investments, ventured US$ 3.5 million in Uber.

With the rising number of tech startups, the marketing industry is also booming in the area.

Mention, a France media monitoring company, recently reported a double-digit growth in the advertising market in Middle Eastern countries. Saudi Arabia, UAE, and Jordan are on the top of the list. Niche Arabic Marketing Tools have also been flaring up for advertisement platforms like Twitter and Facebook.

While all this points to the Arab world emerging as the new startup hub, but still, it has a long way to go before it comes anywhere near becoming an Arab Silicon Valley. The Arabs will have to tackle all the challenges and hardships that come with such progress and compete with the biggest startup hubs in the world.

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  • burj-khalifa: google

About Anum Anwaar

Anum Anwaar is a woman of values and believes and strives to stand by them against all odds.She is a huge believer in peace,prosperity and prayer and aspires to contribute her part in making the world a better place to live in.She has a passion for psychology, meditation, linguistics, and Quran in all of its beauty and magnificence inspires her deeply.