The Middle East is beginning to emerge as a popular area for technology startups. Despite the economic and political challenges these firms may face, budding businesses from Amman to Cairo have begun to make a significant mark on the local and international technology sectors by leveraging the very best of both creativity and visionary thinking to develop devices and systems that are changing lives.
Here are seven innovative technology startups that the Middle East has to offer:
Hailing from Israel, this startup developed an innovative device that helps patients with muscle disorders like amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also called “Lou Gehrig’s disease,” overcome the difficulties of their conditions. EyeControl’s mobile device uses cutting-edge technology to provide a means of communication for patients who have difficulty speaking. By pairing a mini computer with an infrared camera, the company has created a low-cost system that monitors and converts a patient’s various eye movements into vocal cues. The team at EyeControl introduced its first prototype during the 2015 Israel Brain Technology conference and has since gained widespread recognition for this device. In July 2016, the startup received a staggering $100,000 in funding during at The Venture startup contest in New York.
2. Dokkan Afkar
One of the most prominent e-commerce sites in Saudi Arabia, Dokkan Afkar, is the answer to a growing local demand for innovative online merchandise marketplaces. Spearheaded by entrepreneur Ammar Waganah, the company delivers a wide array of products, from technological accessories to women’s apparel. Dokkan Afkar primarily offers merchandise that displays inventive prowess and a unique eye for design. More importantly, the startup helps showcase new products that can make a positive impact on the lives of Saudi Arabians.
Founded in Egypt, Kngine has emerged as a robust alternative to Google. With a name meaning “knowledge engine,” the startup has created a unique type of search technology that provides highly detailed results to its users. Unlike other popular search engines that provide rank-based outcomes, Kngine displays a list of information that is based on the specific questions that users pose. The app accomplishes this by analyzing the relationship between keywords and piecing them together to provide the best result. Kngine also learns how to better answer questions with each subsequent search by continuously incorporating new topics and keywords to its knowledge bank.
Since its inception in 2013, Instabug has built an inventive system that enables people to report software issues with mobile applications. Though it is based in Cairo, Egypt, the company offers its services to individuals and app creators across the globe. Instabug’s program acts as an avenue through which developers can gain immediate feedback from their users whenever they encounter problems. Perhaps the interface’s most innovative feature is that it works within apps themselves, thus streamlining the process of both reporting issues and receiving a quick response. Using this model, developers can fix problems in a more timely manner and prevent their apps from garnering poor reviews. As of 2016, Instabug works with approximately 12,000 different mobile applications and fields more than 35,000 bug reports each day.
Mobile application creator BeeLabs has remained in the forefront of the Middle Eastern technology sector since 2013. The startup has maintained a primary focus on creating high-quality content for an Arabic audience that could rival the popularity of similar applications published in English. Though it started by publishing only education applications, BeeLabs has since expanded into the realm of mobile gaming. All of the startup’s creative content uses state-of-the-art technologies to create highly interactive applications for all ages. Among its vast portfolio of content are a children’s story called “The Gnome and the Sheep” and the widely-praised Arabic game Shibshib War. BeeLabs has also launched an innovative program that experiments with augmented and virtual reality apps.
Though it began as a small startup in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, in 2008, technology developer Infinitec has expanded its operations to seven nations across the globe. The startup has achieved this global reach by working towards the goal of revolutionizing digital interactions with new technologies. Over the years, Infinitec has focused on the development of two projects. Its first device was a memory drive that used a groundbreaking communications system to far exceed the capabilities of traditional cross-device data sharing. However, Infinitec has become perhaps best known for its Pocket TV device, which can interface with multiple screens and provide access to a variety of television channels, mobile applications, and websites.
Another addition to the Middle Eastern e-commerce sector, ShopGo partners with local merchants who are looking to sell their products online. Centering its services on growing markets, the startup supports the work of its clients throughout each stage of their online businesses and helps them overcome any difficulties they may face. With years of technology and e-commerce expertise, ShopGo can connect its clients to any resource they might need. From website customization to shipping resources, these services help clients remain ahead in their respective markets and reach more online customers. ShopGo’s innovative technology solutions have attracted the attention of several prominent startup assistance firms, including Oasis500.