The World Economic Forum and the Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) have selected the 100 most promising Arab startups of 2019. This initiative aims to further integrate the Arab world’s most promising startup entrepreneurs into a national and regional dialogue on pressing challenges.
Selected entrepreneurs will participate in the official program of the upcoming World Economic Forum on the MENA region where they will engage with industry and government leaders to discuss the future of their industries and how to add value to society.
“The Arab world will need its private sector to address youth unemployment, the current skills gap for the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the inclusion of women in the workforce. Startups, and the entrepreneurs building them, are key to a strategic public-private dialogue on these issues and to creating corresponding new opportunities in society,” said Mirek Dusek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Geopolitical and Regional Affairs, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.
Among the selected startups are:
- Wahed, UAE: The world’s 1st halal investment platform;
- MonoJo, Jordan: A biotech company that uses camel milk to develop antibodies;
- Proximie, Lebanon: A company that uses augmented reality for surgeons to contribute remotely to clinical procedures;
- Malaem, Bahrain: A platform to meet fellow football players and book pitches;
- Akkasa, Oman: A production company shaping its country’s cultural landscape;
- Coded, Kuwait: The coding booth camps for the Arab world;
- Clean City M3kod, Morocco: An app for civic engagement;
- FalconViz, KSA: A company conducting a range of mapping including that of cultural heritage sites with autonomous drones.
Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the EDB, said, “Across the Middle East, entrepreneurs are devising increasingly innovative ways to tackle the evolving societal challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution with novel applications of technology. These efforts need to be encouraged, recognized and supported by investors, business leaders and policy-makers.”
He continued, “The 100 Arab startups initiative is not just a platform for recognizing promise but a way to bring great minds together to discuss the limitless possibilities of the 4th Industrial Revolution and the next breakthroughs that the regional ecosystem can deliver. The Bahrain Economic Development Board (EDB) is proud to partner with the World Economic Forum on the search for the 100 Arab start-ups shaping the future.”
The initiative welcomed back startups selected in 2017, including: Elves (Egypt), an AI concierge service; Daraty (Syria), a toolkit for children to learn electronics; and Careem (UAE), the Arab world’s 1st unicorn company recently sold for $3.1B.
With a 31% increase in investments compared to 2017, a new record was reached for regional startup funding last year, according to data from Magnitt (Iraq), a company twice selected among the 100 Arab startups initiative. Foreign investment remained stable in 2018 with 30% from outside the Arab world, while fintech took over ecommerce as the top industry as a result of an 8% increase in deals since 2017.
A selection committee of experts on the startups ecosystem in the region worked with the World Economic Forum and the EDB to screen and select the 100 startups.
- Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Saudi Technology Ventures (STV);
- Ahmed El Alfi, Founder and Chairman, Sawari Ventures;
- Amir Farha, Co-Founder and Managing Director, BECO Capital;
- Areije Al Shakar, Director and Fund Manager, Al Waha Venture Capital Fund; Senior Vice-President, Bahrain Development Bank;
- Khaled Talhouni, Managing Partner, Wamda Capital;
- Mirek Dusek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Geopolitical and Regional Affairs, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum.