Three industries to look at within the Arab world’s fastest-growing startup ecosystems


DUBAI: Bahrain and the UAE metropolis of Sharjah provide one of the best ecosystems within the Center East for startups within the areas of economic know-how (fintech), training know-how (edtech), and digital media, based on coverage advisory and analysis group Startup Genome.

The 2 places ranked within the high 5 fastest-growing activation part startup ecosystems globally, which means that founders can “construct on native financial strengths and develop targeted applications to speed up ecosystem development and develop pockets of success resulting in sizable exits.”

The International Startup Ecosystem Report — which tracked greater than 1.27 million corporations from over 250 ecosystems — acknowledges the help for startups provided by these two ecosystems within the wake of the coronavirus illness (COVID-19) pandemic.

Each Bahrain and Sharjah launched stimulus applications for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), both by the use of equity-free grants or exemptions on quite a lot of charges.

Because of its requirements on crowdfunding and open banking, Bahrain leads the Center East and North Africa (MENA) area as a fintech ecosystem. The regulatory sandbox operated by the Central Financial institution of Bahrain (CBB) permits gamers to check new ideas earlier than they go public — maybe an indicator of why the island nation is host to 90 lively and numerous startups.

Ebrahim Janahi, chief govt officer of labor fund Tamkeen, mentioned: “Bahrain has established itself as an revolutionary fintech hub, residence to laws designed to allow and encourage entrepreneurship.”

A current success is Fasset, a CBB sandbox firm that gives international traders digital tokens for fractional funding in sustainable infrastructure. At present in beta-stage trials, its Fasset Alternate (FEX) goals to deal with tokens — basically digital cash — which are backed by digital currencies comparable to bitcoin and ethereum, in addition to actual world belongings comparable to gold.

“Up to now, accessing digital belongings — whether or not cryptocurrencies or actual asset-backed tokens — within the MENASA (MENA and South Asia) area has been an onerous course of,” mentioned Fasset CEO Mohammed Raafi Hossain.

“FEX brings to the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) the accessibility, selection, and ease of use which more and more characterizes digital asset markets elsewhere on the planet. It’s our perception that each investor ought to have a wholesome, risk-assessed allocation in digital belongings,” he added.

Co-founder of The Tempest, Mashal Waqar (L) and co-founder and CEO of Lumofy Ahmed Faraj (R). (Provided)

The transfer follows the launch of Rain, the Gulf’s first cryptocurrency change. The startups are capitalizing on a world digital forex market forecast to succeed in $1.48 billion by 2025, rising at an annual fee of 6 % over the subsequent 5 years.

Some of the visibly affected sectors of current instances has been media, the place conventional enterprise fashions have been onerous hit.

In opposition to this backdrop, a number of startups have established themselves to serve area of interest audiences, comparable to The Tempest, outlined as a “next-generation ladies’s media firm.” Based in 2016, the startup was admitted to an accelerator program run by Sheraa, a Sharjah-based incubator.

“The very best half about this system was the mentoring side and the alternatives you get as a startup when you’re part of Sheraa’s ecosystem,” mentioned co-founder of The Tempest, Mashal Waqar.

“They created such a supportive and inspiring setting that allowed us to work by way of the enterprise and income facet of issues, and nice tune our gross sales course of.”

Startup Genome has recognized Sharjah as a middle for digital media startups, with two devoted free zones. Sheraa, in the meantime, has run applications devoted to guide and digital content material ventures. Total, the digital content material market is predicted to broaden by 18.7 % in 2020, rising by $519.83 billion over the 5 years to 2024, market analysis firm Technavio has forecast.

Whether or not catering to high school college students or grownup learners in search of to upskill, training know-how corporations have seen an elevated demand for his or her companies for the reason that COVID-19 outbreak.

Worldwide, edtech startups have attracted $4.8 billion in 2020, or extra enterprise capital funding within the first 9 months of the yr than in 2019, based on knowledge from market intelligence agency CB Insights. The sector is on observe to set a brand new file this yr.

Total, the edtech and sensible classroom market will greater than double over the subsequent 5 years, rising 16 % per yr from an estimated $85.8 billion in 2020 to $181.3 billion in 2025.

Bahrain-based Lumofy is among the many regional gamers making it to the top of the startup class in current months. The supplier of e-learning-focused options has helped speed up digital transformation for corporates and establishments within the nation for the reason that COVID-19 outbreak, starting with a free two-month subscription to its gateway merchandise.

Co-founder and CEO Ahmed Faraj, mentioned: “The COVID-19 scenario has allowed us to witness a significant change in the way in which we view know-how’s relationship with training.

“The shift to the digital world has been accelerated, and we as innovators have the adaptability to permit corporates, establishments, and governmental entities to pivot shortly with our suite of instruments.”


This report is being revealed by Arab Information as a associate of the Center East Alternate, which was launched by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum International Initiatives to replicate the imaginative and prescient of the UAE prime minister and ruler of Dubai to discover the potential of altering the standing of the Arab area.

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