With one of the most supportive startup ecosystems in the Middle East, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has gained the attention of countless entrepreneurs. Every year, more and more startups in the country are opening their doors.
Here are seven of the most exciting UAE-based startups that you need to watch:
Since its inception, RoundMenu has grown into the most prominent online restaurant database in the UAE. Designed to benefit both local residents and foreign travelers, the startup’s website allows users to discover popular eateries in their area. RoundMenu has arranged its featured restaurants according to a number of different categories, including those that are trending on social media, those that will open soon, and those that offer specific dishes.
Aiming to make restaurant selection a highly transparent process, the site also allows users to access online restaurant reviews and share their own experiences. In an effort to further promote restaurants in the UAE and beyond, RoundMenu’s founder, Zaid Jawad, initiated the Restaurant Buzz Awards to honor those eateries that received the highest praise from local residents.
An innovative digital marketing startup founded in early 2015, Tarifah allows consumers and businesses to connect with one another in new ways. With offices in both the UAE and Egypt, the startup is uniquely positioned to serve clients across the Middle East. From analyzing in-store traffic to maintaining a presence on social media, Tarifah provides all the assistance that local businesses need to reach and maintain a strong customer base. Based on location, the startup also provides consumers with access to special bargains and paperless loyalty programs at businesses in their area. Each of Tarifah’s services function in real time, which enables its business clients to adjust their advertising strategy based on emerging changes.
Mirroring the services of numerous companies across Europe and the United States, Fetchr is the UAE’s solution to the growing need for deliveries on-demand. Using innovative technologies, the startup can connect both businesses and individuals with the resources they need to safely ship packages across the UAE, Bahrain, or Saudi Arabia.
Through the Fetchr app, users simply select the time and place for pickup, and the app uses GPS to pinpoint where deliveries must go. Not only does this help streamline the delivery process, but it also helps small local businesses reach consumers without needing to enlist the help of full-time couriers. Thanks to its innovative services, Fetchr became the first Middle Eastern startup to receive early-stage funding from a prominent US-based venture capital company.
Featured in popular publications like Wamda and ArabNet, LaundryBox came into being after founder Bader Al Kalooti received the wrong suit from the cleaners. He thus set out to create a simpler and timelier way for individuals to arrange laundry cleaning services. The main feature behind LaundryBox is its unique use of laundry lockers, which are installed inside the lobbies of apartment buildings. Using either a mobile application or a kiosk at the lockers, users can place dirty laundry inside the lockers and order services such as washing, dry cleaning, shoe shining, and ironing. LaundryBox cleans each item at its own facility and returns the entire order to the locker within a day. Aiming for quality as well as convenience, the startup also offers pickup services at clients’ homes.
Established in 2012, Pixelbug works with web developers such as Oculus and Leap Motion to create top-of-the-line augmented reality (AR) products. Founder Dany El Eid originally began the startup to serve business clients that wanted to use these technologies commercially. In 2015, Pixelbug made a significant mark on the AR industry with the release of its acclaimed platform, Colorbug. Designed as a form of “edutainment” for young children, this program allows users to customize their own AR adventures. Pixelbug is also the startup behind a number of other projects, including AR games for Procter & Gamble and a shaving simulation for Schick Middle East.
In 2013, seasoned entrepreneur Saeid Hejazi created Wally to revolutionize personal finance. Through its mobile application, the startup provides a new way for users to oversee every aspect of managing their money. Whether they deal in US dollars or UAE dirham, users can privately set financial goals and monthly budgets. Wally tracks their purchases every day of the week and details where they spent their money and how much it cost. On top of these tools, the startup plans on extending its features to include money conversion tools and family financial planning help. Each of these services has allowed Wally to become one of the top finance tracking apps around the world.
After a group of childhood friends from Abu Dhabi struggled to find reliable information about local apartment rentals, they founded Sakkini to make the search process easier for others. Now an innovative relocation portal, the startup particularly caters its services to expatriates who are looking to purchase or invest in properties in the UAE. Through Sakkini, people can search for individual building projects or thoroughly vetted developers and directly reach out to them to begin the purchase process. The startup also aims to increase transparency in the real estate market by providing all the necessary information on living costs, floor plans, and local communities.