The Middle East has seen an influx of food-related startups in recent years. Several entrepreneurs from across the region have worked diligently to solidify their place on the local culinary map, delighting customers with succulent flavors. From food delivery services to brick-and-mortar establishments, these startups are making it easier for residents of the Middle East to enjoy their favorite cuisine.
In the future, the Arab food startup scene will likely witness even more growth due to local organizations such as Savour, a groundbreaking accelerator that caters to startups that focus on food. As the food startup ecosystem continues to thrive, it is important to recognize those businesses that have laid the groundwork for success in this industry. Following are a few of the Arab food startups that you need to keep on your radar.
Dubai-based entrepreneur Nezar Kadhem created his startup, Eat, after experiencing difficulty in booking a table at a restaurant in Bahrain. In an effort to make the process easier for businesses and consumers alike, he created a startup that helps restaurants in the local region to increase their bookings. Eat’s powerful reservation management platform gives restaurants greater oversight of the entire booking process, from analyzing key business metrics to creating seating plans. Restaurants can leverage these tools to enhance the dining experience for their customers and retain more business. Most recently, Eat partnered with TripAdvisor and Time Out Dubai to facilitate instant table booking features on both sites.
On the consumer end, Eat has developed a mobile application that offers customers a seamless way to make reservations. Rather than calling a restaurant to book a table, diners can secure a seat with just the touch of a button.
Since 2011, Ripe has provided consumers across the UAE with locally grown and organic produce. By partnering with several organic farms from across the region, the startup has been able to provide fresh food to its customers through its Ripe Boxes. Clients can select from an array of these boxes, each of which features a variety of fruits and vegetables. Ripe Boxes change throughout the year depending on the growing season, thereby ensuring that customers receive only the freshest food.
The success of these boxes has since helped Ripe to expand its culinary influence. The startup regularly hosts Ripe Markets through which it sells its produce. In addition, consumers can find the organic goods that they enjoy through Ripe’s online shop, which has grown to include all manner of dairy, gluten-free, and meat products.
Founded in 2015 by entrepreneur Waleed Abdel Rahman, Mumm serves as a source of home-cooked meals for clients across Egypt. Customers in more than a dozen areas can arrange to have a variety of inexpensive meals delivered right to their doorstep. Mumm’s affiliate cooks offer an array of meat dishes, soups, salads, and other regional favorites. Those looking for a delicious home-cooked meal can simply choose from one of the available options and select the type of delivery that they need. For single meals, Mumm guarantees delivery within 90 minutes. Those who need larger family meals or frozen fare will receive their orders within 24 hours.
Mumm customers can earn free meals any time they recommend the startup to their friends. For every invitation they make, customers and their friends can earn a credit of 35 EGP that they can use toward the purchase of any meal.
After graduating from college, siblings Laila and Adel Sedky sought to tap into the most underserved market in Egypt’s dessert scene: cupcakes. This idea took shape in the form of NOLA Cupcakes, which opened its first store location in 2010. As the first business of its kind, it put gourmet cupcakes on the national map by offering a wide array of delicious baked goods.
Over the years, NOLA Cupcakes has introduced such delectable cupcake flavors as Tiramisu and Birthday Cupcake. Each month, the startup hosts a Cupcake Wars competition, during which time clients can sample the two flavors that are contending for the title of “Flavor of the Month.”
Following the success of its cupcakes, NOLA Cupcakes has since expanded to include a number of other sweet treats. Customers can choose from delights such as volcano cake, cronuts, and petit four.
After leaving his job at Groupon, Rasha Ismail established Cook-A-Box to provide more meal planning options to the busy residents of the Middle East. Instead of having to create their own weekly menus and go to the store for their groceries, customers can access recipes and their corresponding ingredients directly through the startup.
Every week, Cook-A-Box unveils a list of nine new recipes featuring cuisines from around the world. After its customers choose their favorites from the list, the startup will deliver a box of pre-portioned fresh ingredients to their doorsteps every day. The service not only saves customers time and eliminates hassles, but it also ensures that they have exactly what they need to create delicious meals throughout the week.