In recent years, Saudi Arabia has become one of the Middle East’s most prominent startup markets. With companies in every industry ranging from financial technology to virtual reality, the country has some of the region’s most innovative power players. Read on to explore seven of the Saudi Arabian startups that you should watch right now:
In 2014, the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology established Visual Experience, a startup that designs virtual reality (VR) content for the country’s education, real estate, and culture sectors. The creation of this startup complements Saudi Arabia’s fast-growing VR sector, which the International Data Corporation estimates will achieve a net worth of $6 billion by the year 2020.
Visual Experience launched its first application, Makkah Window, to provide its clients with a means of viewing 360-degree maps, pictures, and video content. The startup has since grown to include a number of other products such as a unique set of VR glasses composed of cardboard for easy transport. In addition, Visual Experience has designed unique VR experiences for Galaxy Gear devices and the KAUST museum.
NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions
In the midst of a growing solar panel market, one Saudi Arabian startup has sought to eliminate some of the challenges that come with maintaining these innovative devices. Known as NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions, this firm has created the NO-water Mechanical Automated Dusting Device, a patent-pending system that can safely clear dust particles from solar panels.
Designed for simplicity and durability, the NOMADD system is capable of removing nearly all dust from an entire field of solar panels in a day. This modular system can withstand even the harshest of desert conditions while requiring little regular maintenance, which makes it an efficient and low-cost solution to dust issues. In an effort to move its product toward a debut in the commercial market, NOMADD Desert Solar Solutions recently received $1 million in funding through the KAUST Innovation Fund.
OneCard has revolutionized the world of online shopping for individuals living in Saudi Arabia and across the Middle East. Through this startup, members of the local community have been able to request that websites expand their Arabic language and culture capabilities. These services have enabled OneCard to become one of the most influential players in the expansion of Arabic Internet services.
However, the primary focus of OneCard is online payments. With the help of partners such as PayPal and Master Card, the startup allows users to purchase and recharge prepaid cards using their existing credit cards. With an active OneCard balance, clients can seamlessly make online purchases of items ranging from educational materials to video gaming consoles.
Under the guidance of TOQ Technology, HoldInn has made it more convenient than ever for Saudi Arabian travelers to pore over an extensive list of hotels across the country and book their vacations. Focused on variety, the startup provides its clients with lists of the top hotels and resorts in various cities, including Riyadh, Al Khobar, and Mecca.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of HoldInn is that it does not require its patrons to book hotel stays using their credit card. In lieu of booking fees and prepaid transactions, the startup allows its clients to pay at the hotel itself. HoldInn also provides a number of money-saving promotions to its users, which makes it easy for them to plan all manner of family vacations, business trips, and solo excursions across Saudi Arabia.
Based in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, Suplift has created an online platform through which locals can find and participate in new hobbies. Since completing the incubation program at InspireU, the startup has connected individuals with those mentors who can help them to cultivate new skills in a variety of areas. Whether an individual wishes to learn the basics of playing the guitar or creating beautiful latte art, Suplift makes it easy for them to discover new and exciting interests. Those who are particularly skilled in certain hobbies can also enroll as experts and offer their own courses through the site.
Sawerly has become a major player in the Saudi Arabian photography sector due to its innovative photographer booking services. Through both its website and mobile applications, clients can browse through a portfolio of photographers and videographers who focus on areas such as special events, food, and portrait photography.
Those looking for specific photography services can use Sawerly to collaborate with photographers through an online chat and compare multiple proposals before making a decision. With a network of more than 1,500 photographers, the startup makes it easy for its clients to find the right professional for the occasion. Sawerly is also beneficial for the photographers, who can use the site to expand their portfolios and build their client base.
Established in 2014, Morni has made it easy for members of the Saudi Arabian community to access the roadside assistance services that they need. Instead of having to search for help and waiting for it to arrive, individuals can simply download the startup’s free iOS or Android application and connect with any service they may need. Whether they require gas delivery or vehicle towing, users can select a service and wait for Morni to send a professional out to assist them. Easy to use and fully mobile, the app ensures that all clients receive cost-effective, efficient auto service. For its innovative services, Morni has received recognition from such prominent news outlets as The New York Times and Al Arabiya.