The Middle East has long cultivated a strong startup ecosystem that has inspired innovation in sectors ranging from business technology to travel. Even in the face of economic, legal, and political challenges, local entrepreneurship remains strong. As the Arab startup industry continues to flourish, and it’s important to keep an eye on some of the most intriguing startups to emerge from this community.
Here are a few of the most interesting startups in the Middle East today:
Husband and wife team Hakim and Tasneem Boriawala established their startup, Bawabba, to help local freelancers and small businesses find work on either a full-time or part-time basis. With a name meaning “gate” or “portal,” the startup opens up new opportunities for professionals in all lines of work, from accountants to childcare providers.
Taking an unconventional approach to freelance hiring, Bawabba has created an open system through which individuals and companies can easily find a professional for the job at hand. These clients can quickly compare providers, assess their work history, and contact them right through the website. With this platform, Bawabba hopes to encourage more UAE-based companies to work with freelancers.
Headquartered in Dubai, UAE, Fishfishme has been connecting anglers with thrilling fishing experiences worldwide since 2012. Whether an individual is looking to catch new species in the Cayman Islands or their favorites in Australia, they can easily book their dream charter through the site. After selecting departure dates and entering the number of passengers, users can view the various boats and captains that are available during their trip and choose the one that can best accommodate their needs. Each boat provides clients with fishing rods, reels, and bait, and some offer additional features such as food and snorkeling gear.
Serving the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) microinsurance sector, Democrance is an innovative FinTech startup that is working to provide insurance to those who could otherwise not access it. Nearly the entire population of the MENA region—most of which fall into the low- or middle-income brackets—lacks insurance. However, these individuals are the ones who often need it the most. Democrance has stepped in to fill this need by delivering insurance through mobile phones.
This model addresses one the major issues surrounding traditional insurance solutions: the fact that they are expensive to distribute to the local population. In addition, the majority of MENA residents don’t have bank accounts, which makes it difficult for insurance companies to collect premiums. By distributing insurance through mobile phones, Democrance eliminates these problems. This solution not only makes it easier for users to pay their premiums, but it also helps more people access the insurance they need to remain healthy and financially stable.
Bayzat is providing groundbreaking human resources (HR) and insurance solutions to companies looking to improve their management of these critical business functions. For HR professionals, this platform makes it easy to oversee employee records without the hassle of data entry. Instead, staff can seamlessly connect to employee information at any time. Companies can also use Bayzat to manage their business calendars so their HR teams won’t miss a deadline for a document or forget an employee birthday. In addition, this portal enables firms to quickly price available plans, incorporate new members, and gain a bird’s-eye view of their network.
Employees can use Bayzat to access their health benefits online. From determining their coverage to looking up symptoms, these features help them minimize their medical expenses. Bayzat also serves as a place where colleagues can connect with one another and manage work anniversaries.
The team of entrepreneurs behind Lebanese startup Moodfit, who first met while taking an AUB MBA entrepreneurship class, created their firm to revolutionize the Middle Eastern interior design sector. For a base fee, the startup delivers personalized interior design services to clients looking to overhaul the look of their homes. Users begin the process by taking a short design quiz, which highlights their unique style and pairs them with compatible designers. Moodfit clients can also examine the portfolio of each available designer so that they can select the professional that best accommodates their tastes and budget.
During the design process, clients can work with their designers through Moodfit’s Design Board. At the end of their collaboration, users can access furniture lists and 2-D room layouts that will help them bring their design visions to life.
Secret Double Octopus
Israel’s Secret Double Octopus (SDO) is leading a global, password-free movement. Recognizing how easy it is to forget a password or have it stolen, the startup is providing an alternative to both passwords and key-based security for enterprises and their clients. Instead, SDO has focused on more secure authentication features such as single sign-on (SSO) access and multifactor authentication (MFA), which lets users provide authentication using smartphone notifications instead of passwords. This makes it safer for them to access accounts, make online payments, and more.
SDO is offering these services to enterprises in every industry, from retail to education. With tools such as these at their disposal, organizations can more easily protect their clients’ important information.