10 start-ups that are helping to change the Arab world

Arab world

(Jeremy Cai, Unsplash)

This article is brought to you thanks to the collaboration of The European Sting with the World Economic Forum.

Author: Douglas Broom, Senior Writer, Formative Content


Entrepreneurship is booming across the Middle East and North Africa.

In 2018, $900 million was invested across the region in 386 deals, an increase of 31% in total funding in 2017, according to a report released ahead of the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa, which is taking place in Jordan on 6-7 April.

Image: Magnitt

The report, The Start-up Ecosystem in the Arab World, serves as an overview of the state of entrepreneurship across the region, and also coincides with the release of a list of 100 of the Arab world’s most exciting start-ups.

From camel milk antibodies and the region’s first unicorn to glasses that help visually impaired people live an independent life and an app that predicts traffic accidents, Arab start-ups are helping to shape the Fourth Industrial Revolution in the region, and beyond.

Mirek Dusek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Geopolitical and Regional Affairs at the World Economic Forum, says: “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.

“Start-ups, and the entrepreneurs building them, are key to a strategic public private dialogue on these issues and to creating corresponding new opportunities in society.”

Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board, which partnered with the World Economic Forum to produce the list of start-ups, said: “Across the Middle East, entrepreneurs are devising increasingly innovative ways to tackle the evolving societal challenges of the Fourth Industrial Revolution with novel applications of technology. These efforts need to be encouraged, recognized and supported by investors, business leaders and policy-makers.”

Here’s a closer look at just some of the start-ups that are helping to solve several of the region’s most pressing challenges.

The first MENA unicorn

Careem (United Arab Emirates)

App-based ride-hailing car service Careem is valued at more than $1 billion after it was recently acquired by Uber for $3.1 billion. Operating in more than 120 cities across 15 countries in the region, including the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, it is the leading technology platform for the greater Middle East. Careem, which was co-founded by CEO Mudassir Sheikha, operates with more than 3,500 colleagues and one million drivers, or “captains”.

Sunglasses that can see – and read

Amal Glass (United Arab Emirates)

Amal glasses contain an artificial intelligence (AI) device that can detect colours, read Arabic and English and aid the wearer in navigating their surroundings using GPS – helping blind and visually impaired people to live an independent life and integrate with their community.

Adel Boseli, CEO, and Mohamed Islam, founder, launched the product this year after eight years of research and development. Another 14 languages are set to be added to the glasses, which have been designed so that new applications can be easily downloaded as they become available.

The company treating acne with camel milk

MonoJo (Jordan)

MonoJo was started in 2005 by Penelope Shihab, a bioscientist from Jordan. So far, her team has filed UK and US patents for products that treat acne and acute digestive infections using antibodies from camel milk.

Shihab, who won EY’s Jordan Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year in 2014, hopes her success will encourage more Jordanian women to consider a career in science. “I want to create more jobs and raise the profile of women in Jordan and Arab countries”, she said in a recent interview. “I want to be a role model.”

The app that predicts traffic accidents

Derq (United Arab Emirates)

Road traffic accidents kill 1.35 million people every year, according to the World Health Organisation. Derq wants to change that.

It uses AI and vehicle communication technology to help predict and prevent vehicle collisions, detecting road users’ movements to track their behaviour and warn drivers of potential dangers. It also provides traffic planners with insights into road use to help improve highway design and management.

Wearable tech that can warn of a seizure

Epilert (Tunisia)

More than 65 million people live with epilepsy. Epilert, co-founded by CEO Firas Rhaiem, has developed a wearable device to help them live a full and safe life. Using AI technology, the Epilert bracelet works with the user’s mobile phone to monitor their health, contact caregivers in the event of a seizure, and, through machine learning, predict when an incident might occur again.

The device monitors the wearer’s skin temperature and movements, and uses geolocation to call for help when needed. It also transmits data to the patient’s doctor so they can monitor their health and learn more about the condition. The bracelet is waterproof and can be worn 24 hours a day.

The AI app that’s shaking up recruitment

Searchie (United Arab Emirates)

Searchie helps to match recruiters with the best candidates, using AI and video interviews to predict personality, natural abilities, competencies, learning agility, leadership styles and cultural fit with the employer’s organization.

It analyses more than 360,000 factors, including tone of voice, vocabulary, body language and micro facial expressions, to recognize personality traits automatically from just 10 minutes of video.

Using trash instead of cash

Bekia (Egypt)

Bekia allows people to trade their household or business waste for food and domestic items. Through the company’s website, users accumulate points from inorganic waste such as drinks cans and cardboard.

Bekia arranges the collection of recyclable materials and users can then order food and household items. Businesses can also buy office supplies using points based on how much they recycle.

Bringing barren land back to life

Desert Control Middle East (United Arab Emirates)

Desert Control is on a mission to “make earth green again”. Presented by Managing Director of Desert Control Middle East LLC Atle Idland, its patented liquid nano clay (LNC) technology increases water retention in soil by 65% and has been used to turn desert into fertile land producing crops.

A mixture of water and common industrial clay, LNC can be sprayed directly using existing irrigation methods. Its particles then seep into the sand to create spongy, hollow structures that retain water about 40 to 60 centimetres underground – the typical depth of plant roots.

The Dubai government has awarded the firm a place on its social impact incubation programme ‘Expo Live’, which is part of the emirate’s World Expo 2020 initiative, offering up to $600,000 start-up funding support.

Putting energy poverty in the shade

Shamsina (Egypt)

Shamsina is a Cairo-based social enterprise that aims to eradicate energy poverty by designing and making affordable solar technologies and enabling communities to create their own energy supply.

It operates out of a workshop in Cairo’s al-Darb al-Ahmar district and, using raw materials from small local businesses, trains and employs members of the community as well as providing them with energy services.

The virtual surgeon that could revolutionize healthcare

Proximie (Lebanon)

Proximie uses augmented reality to connect surgeons in developed countries with those operating under austere conditions. It’s designed by doctors for doctors and wants to revolutionize the delivery and education of healthcare.

Co-founded by surgeon Dr Nadine Hachach-Haram, Proximie allows doctors to transport themselves virtually into any operating room anywhere in the world to visually and practically interact in an operation from start to finish. And it’s not just shaking up how patient care – it also significantly reduces the cost of delivering the best possible care to patients.

The region’s first bootcamps for budding coders

Coded (Kuwait)

Coded was established in 2015 as the first coding education company in MENA. To date it has run 22 Coding Bootcamps in Kuwait to teach web and mobile development with the latest programming languages and frameworks.

The Coded Academy has more than 200 coding graduates and also runs Coded Juniors, a four-week after-school programme to help the next generation of coders. Co-founder and Chief Operating Officer Hashim Behbehani is also a mentor to other start-ups in the region.

For the full list of 100 Arab start-ups, click here.

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

Advertising

the European Sting Milestones

Featured Stings

How to build a more resilient and inclusive global system

Stopping antimicrobial resistance would cost just USD 2 per person a year

Despite falling attacks, ISIL terrorists remain ‘global threat’: UN report

Merkel had it her way with the refugees & immigrants but can Greece and Turkey deliver?

Commission presents its response to Antisemitism and a survey showing Antisemitism is on the rise in the EU

Medicine in the 4th Industrial Revolution: the third entity of the new doctor-patient relationship

Taking fast road to ‘e-mobility’ central to a sustainable future: COP24

MEPs back measures to reconcile career and private life

Promoting rule of law and fundamental rights in the EU

The Sting’s Mission

Three ways the world must tackle mental health

It’s down to cities to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2030

Italian electoral results to change Eurozone climate and weight on the Cyprus issue

Halting spread of drug resistance from animals to humans: deal with Council

Vulnerable children face ‘dire and dangerous’ situation on Greek island reception centres, UNICEF warns

Do academia and banks favour a new Middle Ages period?

What can stop the ‘too big to fail’ bankers from terrorising the world?

Better Regulation principles: at the heart of the EU’s decision-making process

This forgotten chemical element could be the key to our green energy future

Cross-roads

The three biggest challenges for India’s future

Car rentals: EU action leads to clearer and more transparent pricing

China greenlights first underwater high-speed railway

China is building 8 new airports a year

Pervasive corruption costs $2.6 trillion; disproportionately affects ‘poor and vulnerable’ says UN chief

Under fire, UN refugee agency evacuates 135 detained in Libya to Niger

Migration and rule of law on next ACP-EU Parliamentary Assembly agenda

The EU cuts roaming charges further while the UK weighs Brexit impact

Unemployment and immigrants haunt the EU; who can offer relief?

‘Historic moment’ for people on the move, as UN agrees first-ever Global Compact on migration

Camino de Santiago – a global community on our doorstep

Sweden’s forests have doubled in size over the last 100 years

Why feeding the planet doesn’t have to mean sacrificing our forests

Ship Recycling is the Commission’s Titanic

Making the most of the Sustainable Development Goal 3: its overlooked role in medical education

Ambitions are affordable for Asia and the Pacific

6th Edition of India m2m + iot Forum to open its door on 14th January, in association with The European Sting

UN chief sends condolences to families of Malawi flood victims

Further reforms in Sweden can drive growth, competitiveness and social cohesion

Turkey needs to step up investment in renewables to curb emissions

Pakistan has just planted over a billion trees

Brazil’s hopeless future of science

The International Federation of Medical Students’ Associations (IFMSA) on the arrest of Turkish Medical Association leaders

Catalan Pro-Independence vote: how many hits can Brussels sustain at the same time?

More capital and liquidity for the banks

Lost in translation

Deal on tightening the rules to stop terrorists from using homemade explosives

Drastic deterioration in security across Burkina Faso as 70,000 flee their homes in past two months, UN warns

Ninja innovation and the future of work

Italy’s rescue operation Mare Nostrum shuts down with no real replacement. EU’s Triton instead might put lives at risk

Ebola in DR Congo: conflict zones could constitute ‘hiding places’ for the deadly virus – WHO chief

COP21 Breaking News_03 December: Unprecedented Global Alliance for Buildings and Construction to Combat Climate Change

Here are 4 of the most politically charged World Cup games ever played

European Banking Union: Like the issue of a Eurobond?

With rapid, far-reaching changes, world can prevent climate change worst-case scenarios – UN chief

Better air pollution data is helping us all breathe easier. Here’s how

A Sting Exclusive: “One year on from the VW scandal and EU consumers are still in the dark”, BEUC’s Head highlights from Brussels

More solidarity and interaction between generations needed to challenge age stereotypes and ingrained ageism

5 charts that explain big challenges facing Italy’s new government

“Who do I call if I want to call Europe?” Finally a name and a number to answer Henry Kissinger’s question

AIESEC @ European Business Summit 2014: European Youth, Change Now Patiently

UN rights chief welcomes new text to protect rights of peasants and other rural workers

More Stings?

Speak your Mind Here

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s