Over the years, the Middle East has become almost synonymous with the word “entrepreneurship” thanks to a number of thriving startup ecosystems in the region. The progress of this sector is not expected to stop any time soon, as evidenced by the numerous startups that delivered impressive innovations in their respective areas of work throughout 2017.
Forbes Middle East recognized both the promising work and the financial success of dozens of Arab startups in its 2017 list of the Top 100 Startups in the Arab World. Specializing in everything from personalized home services to sustainable technology, here are seven of the top 100 Arab startups that you should be watching right now:
Established in 2014, PayTabs has quickly become one of the top payment processing entities in the Middle East. Though it is based in Saudi Arabia, the startup serves the needs of professional clients across the globe.
Those who own internet-based businesses can turn to PayTabs if they are looking to facilitate better online payment systems on behalf of their customers. The startup can help these businesses set up a diverse online payment dashboard through which to manage customer transactions, facilitate online subscriptions, create payment invoices, and more.
PayTabs also makes it easy for businesses to integrate payment features throughout their websites. With on-page checkout windows and integrated APIs, businesses can create a more seamless payment process for patrons using nearly 170 different currencies. PayTabs adheres to PCI-DSS certifications to ensure that all payment information will be secure.
An innovative ride sharing startup in the UAE, Udrive is the first business of its kind to offer on-demand car rental services to locals. Since 2016, the startup has helped its users move between destinations by allowing them to find rental vehicles across Dubai.
To access these services, individuals must first register on either the Udrive website or mobile application. After submitting the required documentation, users are given a unique PIN that they can use to access nearby rental cars. When their ride comes to a close, they are able to park in any one of Dubai’s RTA zones or free parking areas.
Udrive charges its members AED .50 per minute for most rentals, but they may also reserve different models for a set daily price. Users may refuel the cars they rent for no charge at any local EPPCO or ENOC facilities.
Since its inception in 2015, JustMop has provided homeowners across the UAE with a means of accessing home cleaning services. Whether they need a single cleaning on that same day or recurring maid services, users can book their first appointment with the startup’s professionally-trained maids in as little as one minute.
JustMop’s team can handle virtually any cleaning need, from vacuuming and mopping to wiping down furniture and appliances. To provide its users with additional convenience, the startup has developed a mobile application through which they can seamlessly create and manage cleaning appointments.
The Beirut, Lebanon-based Falafel Games has become one of the top game developers in the Middle East. Though it focuses primarily on massively multiplayer online (MMO) games today, the startup began by creating free Arabic-oriented games for its audience. Since expanding into the world of MMO games, it has published titles for both desktop computers and mobile devices.
Leveraging more than a century of combined game experience, the Falafel Games team has cultivated a user base of 2 million individuals since 2016. The startup’s games pair strategy and role-playing with “deep social interaction” to keep users engaged for hours on end.
Enerwhere has been making solar energy more accessible for clients across the Middle East region since 2012. Offering an array of commercial-level services, the startup enables customers to find the solution that best fits their needs. Those looking for a more cost-effective solution, for example, could opt to rent solar generators for between six months and five years at a time. Enerwhere has also collaborated with the Shams Dubai Solar Program to lease money-saving solar panel solutions to factory and warehouse owners.
Enerwhere prides itself on delivering unprecedented efficiency and flexibility to its customers. Its highly-scalable solutions enable clients to expand their solar capacity as their needs grow. Enerwhere can also deliver its solar panels to any location, which makes it easy for commercial entities to power projects on the go.
Nibras is making it easier than ever for Middle Eastern professionals to obtain the training that they need to advance their careers. Since its debut in 2014, the startup has developed more than 250 courses for professionals looking to hone their skills in areas ranging from Microsoft Office to management. Nibras facilitates the educational experience by delivering the tools that its users need to navigate through content, quickly access learning materials, and make progress in each course.
Headquartered in the UAE, Votek develops speech recognition solutions for individuals in the Middle Eastern region. Leveraging some of the most cutting-edge Arabic speech recognition (ASR) technology, the startup has developed a system that is capable of interpreting speech with up to 95-percent-accurate results. Not only can Votek ASR detect standard Arabic speech, but it can also recognize several dialects and 10 accents. The startup has optimized these features for use on such platforms as smart toys and government applications. Users may even configure their VOTEK ASR systems to function offline.