Local Business

UAE has region's best startup ecosystem: Forbes

Issac John /Dubai
issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com Filed on October 6, 2020


Forbes Middle East said that for more than half of the startups, this year has been an extremely lucrative one

The UAE has the most active startup ecosystem in the Middle East as 33 of the 50 most-funded startups named by Forbes are headquartered in the emirates.

Among the top 10 startups in Forbes Middle East list of the "50 most-funded startups in the Middle East," seven startups were established in the UAE. 

Saudi Arabia comes in second with seven startups, two of which feature in the top 10. Egypt is home to four, Jordan to three, Lebanon for two, and Kuwait to one, according to Forbes list of startups founded no earlier than 2013 with a minimum of $5 million in total funding from external investors.

The UAE is also home to the region's most funded startup. Pure Harvest Smart Farms of the UAE tops the list after it secured $135.8 million from investors, including Wafra International and Shorooq Partners, to fuel its ambitious expansion plan.

Other top UAE startups figuring in the list include Swvl, SellAnyCar.com, Kitopi, and Traveazy Group.

The Forbes list highlights young businesses that have been most successful in securing multi-million-dollar investment rounds. Together they have raised a total of $959 million in combined external funding. More than half of that was secured by the top 10 startups, amounting to around $546 million.

Nana, an e-grocery marketplace platform, is the highest-funded Saudi startup on our list after it raised a total of $28.9 million from investors. Whereas the only Kuwaiti startup on the list-digital laundry service JustClean-has pulled in $20 million from Faith Capital.

Forbes Middle East said that for more than half of the startups, this year has been an extremely lucrative one. "Despite the challenges of the global pandemic, 29 startups together raised funding in 2020 worth a total of $425 million, showing it is possible to find growth opportunities amidst economic uncertainty. Startups in fintech, agri-tech, prop-tech, transport, delivery, restaurant platforms, and cloud kitchens received the most significant chunks of investment."

The most active investors were 500 Startups, Raed Ventures, and Wamda Capital, with investments in 10, eight, and seven startups, respectively. 



Issac John

Editorial Director of Khaleej Times, is a well-connected Indian journalist and an economic and financial commentator. He has been in the UAE's mainstream journalism for 35 years, including 23 years with Khaleej Times. A post-graduate in English and graduate in economics, he has won over two dozen awards. Acclaimed for his authentic and insightful analysis of global and regional businesses and economic trends, he is respected for his astute understanding of the local business scene.

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