Get to know the Middle East’s top 10 startups

Careem’s sale to Uber in March was the biggest technology deal in the Middle East so far. (File photo: Reuters)

The hunt for the next Middle Eastern startup worth over one billion dollars – known as a unicorn – is on following Careem’s blockbuster $3.1 billion deal with Uber earlier this year.

Governments across the Middle East have been pushing to embrace local startup ecosystems with initiatives aimed at fostering startups and reforming the business landscape.

These efforts are coming to fruition. Last month, reports surfaced showing that Middle East and North Africa (MENA) startup funding was up 66 percent for the first half of 2019.

Amid this promising outlook for startups in the region, Al Arabiya English has put together a list of the top 10 Middle Eastern startups.

1. Mumzworld – UAE

Mumzworld was founded in 2011 by Mona Ataya and Leena Khalil with the aim of creating a single online marketplace for everything mothers need for themselves and their children. The Dubai-based company ships goods ranging from diapers to toys across the Middle East and the world.

Following a Series B funding round which raised $20 million from investors in 2018, Mumzworld announced it would expand with an office in Saudi Arabia.

2. Golden Scent – Saudi Arabia

Founded in 2014, Golden Scent is a Saudi Arabian ecommerce platform focused on perfumes and beauty products. The company claims to stock over 10,000 items with a selection of over 300 international brands and currently delivers to Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, UAE, and Iraq.

In early 2019, Golden Scent announced it had closed a new round of investment to centralize and expand its Dubai office and logistics center and update its in-app features.

3. Fetchr – UAE

Fetchr is a regional courier service company which was founded in 2012 to improve delivery services in the Middle East, where sending and receiving packages has historically been difficult.

Fetchr uses GPS technology tied to mobile phones to utilize location-based pickup and delivery. Currently the company is shipping in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Oman, and Egypt. The startup has also partnered with local and international retailers to provide delivery services, in addition to direct customer deliveries.

4. PayTabs – Bahrain

PayTabs is a payment processing company established in 2014. The company caters to small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), large corporations, and the e-commerce market by providing online payment solutions. PayTabs is certified by Visa and MasterCard and has been recognized numerous times as a leading fintech startup.

5. HalaYalla – Saudi Arabia

HalaYalla, launched in 2016, is an event and activity booking app designed to help organize activities ranging from football games to book clubs. The app uses an interface to help users to create and engage in a range of group activities.

The company has also begun powering major events in the Kingdom, with its ticketing and event management software being used in events such as the Formula E and this year’s Jeddah Season.

6. The Luxury Closet – UAE

The Luxury Closet was founded in 2011 in Dubai as an online boutique store for buying and selling new and pre-owned luxury items such as watches, jewelry, and clothing. The company states it has more than 16,000 items from a variety of luxury brands in its selection. In May this year The Luxury Closet completed a growth funding round, bringing the company’s total investment to $11 million.

7. Vezeeta – Egypt

Veezeta, founded in 2012, is a MENA healthcare startup which enables patients to search, compare, and book doctor appointments in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. The company also provides services for hospitals and clinics to manage appointments and patient data.

The International Finance Corporation, a member of World Bank Group, invested an undisclosed amount in Vezeeta in late 2018, following a $12 million Series C funding round led by Saudi Technology Ventures earlier that year.

8. Beehive – UAE

Launched in 2014, Beehive is the region’s first regulated peer-to-peer lending platform. Across MENA, SMEs have often faced difficulties accessing funding, with traditional finance institutions unwilling to shoulder the risk that the sector typically represents. Beehive seeks to solve this problem by managing a platform for UAE-based SMEs to solicit funding from a large pool of investors, cutting costs for both parties by eliminating conventional finance methods.

9. Yallacompare – UAE

The finance comparison site Yallacompare launched in 2011 with the aim of helping users in the Middle East find and compare financial products from local and international banks. Currently the site is available in nine countries in the region – Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Qatar, and Oman.

10. Sarwa – UAE

Sarwa was one of the first robo-advisers to launch in the UAE. A robo-adviser is an investment tool for clients that do not have the funds worthy of a traditional wealth adviser. Instead, a robo-adviser allows these clients to invest their savings in a tailor-made portfolio of exchange traded funds, offering lower fees than traditional investments and low management fees. Sarwa began operating in late 2017 and is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority.

Al Arabiya English’s ranking is based on a variety of factors including level of funding, disruption potential, and market penetration.

Last Update: Sunday, 15 September 2019 KSA 16:37 - GMT 13:37

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