Countless Middle Eastern government entities and businesses have acknowledged the area’s growing carbon footprint and have initiated green programs to curb this trend. However, to become truly sustainable, the region needs to do more than monitor its energy consumption and reduce its carbon emissions. Recognizing this, a number of the region’s startups have joined the green movement and taken eco-friendliness to an entirely new level. With sustainability as their focus, many of these businesses promote recycling, while others design products out of recycled materials. Regardless of their different approaches, they are all helping to build a greener future for the Middle East.
The following are six Middle Eastern startups that are working to promote sustainability:
Based in Egypt, RecycloBekia offers electronic waste recycling services to clients across the entire Middle East and North Africa region. Since its founding by 20 university students, the startup has grown into one of the area’s most sustainable entities. RecycloBekia acts as a sort of “recycling army” that relieves its customers of their unwanted digital materials, thereby helping minimize environmental pollution.
As the first company of its kind to operate within the Middle East, RecycloBekia deals with everything from electronic recycling to secure data deletion. Through partnerships with both individuals and private companies, the startup can collect this e-waste and recycle it at its factory. This process both conserves existing resources and prevents the buildup of excess waste, which allows clients to use technological devices without leaving a large environmental footprint.
An Israeli nanotechnology startup named Cine’al has paired nature with science to produce Hydromash, a flexible, extremely absorbent material that is composed of jellyfish. By incorporating antibacterial nanomaterials into the creatures’ flesh, the startup was able to synthesize this durable yet biodegradable substance. The bodies of jellyfish are 90 percent water, which means that Cine’al can also incorporate other features, such as fragrance and antiseptics, into the surface of the product. With this breakthrough technology, the startup has focused on creating diapers, bandages, and feminine hygiene products. Further, the Hydromash materials decay in only 30 days, which means that they will not contribute to overflowing landfills.
To overcome the energy and water issues that Egypt faces, engineering student Dina Mosallem founded Solarist, a startup that focused on solar power. The company has served as a center of innovation since it completed the incubation process at Flat6Labs in 2013. Although Egypt has seen countless projects aimed at desalinating seawater or harnessing solar energy, this startup was the first of its kind to combine these efforts.
With this mission in mind, Solarist unveiled its flagship project SolDesm, a portable device that uses the power of the sun to remove the salt from seawater. This machine requires fewer than 1100 Watts to turn 400 liters of seawater into potable water every hour. Using this system, Solarist has been able to create a sustainable solution to water shortages while also providing access to clean drinking water for those living in rural regions.
Based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, Dumyé has leveraged the ideals of environmentalism and social consciousness to create a line of life-changing dolls. The startup’s mission is to uplift children who have lost their parents by giving them their own customized rag dolls. For every toy that a client purchases, Dumyé brings one of these children to a workshop where they receive one of these dolls as a gift and can design it in any way they wish. Part of the startup’s Karmic Goodness Promise, these efforts aim to cultivate kindness and awareness of the needs of others while protecting the earth.
Dumyé hand sews each rag doll it produces using all natural dyes and cotton before filling it with sustainable materials. The hair of each doll is also composed entirely of recycled plastic.
The UAE is home to some of the most congested roadways in the Middle East, primarily due to the tendency of its commuters to drive to work alone. Not only does this problem contribute to lengthy travel times, but it also generates unnecessarily large amounts of carbon emissions. To counteract this, the team at Carpool Arabia offers a revolutionary carpooling service to clients across the Emirates. Using a simple mobile application, users can arrange for rides at any time of day and will receive access to an available driver. The app also informs them of how much money they will save per month on gas and by how much they will lessen their CO2 emissions. This way, it helps customers remain aware of their economic and environmental impact.
Another startup dedicated to reducing carbon emissions is Ain Bicycles, which builds and sells bicycles to residents of Cairo, Egypt. Until founders Karim Abbany and Dirk Wanrooij established the startup in 2013, cycling was not a common activity among Egyptians due to a lack of reliable bicycles. Ain Bicycles has since filled this need by offering bicycles at reasonable prices to those who are looking to alter their method of commuting around the city. Eco-conscious practices like biking are more crucial than ever due to the heavy pollution that Cairo experiences from the number of cars that travel its streets each day.
Most recently, Ain Bicycle sought to expand its reach by opening a community center dedicated to teaching local residents how to repair their own bikes. By nurturing a vast network of cyclists, the startup hopes to enable them to lead more sustainable lives.