Not every Middle Eastern country has startup scenes that are on the same level as those in the United Arab Emirates and Egypt. However, many smaller ecosystems are well on their way to becoming thriving hubs of entrepreneurship in their own right.
Oman is one such Arab country that has recently begun to build up its startup sector. Since launching its Vision 2040 plan in 2019, Oman is now working diligently to become one of the world’s hotspots for small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
As part of Vision 2040, Oman will prioritize its entrepreneurship scene, which is still in its earliest stages today. The growth of this ecosystem will be key to creating new jobs that will reward high-skill professionals with high pay—something that the sultanate is currently lacking. With a high unemployment rate among its young adult population, Oman will need its startup ecosystem to mature if it wants to achieve its Vision 2040 goals.
Fortunately, Oman has a solid foundation on which it can build a promising future for its citizens. The country is already home to a number of thriving startups that are paving the way for future businesses to emerge. Let’s look at some of the best startups on the Omani startup scene today:
Based in Oman and Indonesia, Sain Bag is promoting greener shopping habits with its innovative line of biodegradable shopping bags. Unlike regular plastic bags, these bags are composed of Cassava starch and other organic, renewable sources. The bags, which bear the slogan “I’m Not Plastic,” are 100 percent recyclable and compostable. They dissolve in hot water and are harmless to wildlife.
Within its first year of operation, Sain Bag produced over 70 million of its eco-friendly bags. The startup has since expanded its product line to include laundry bags, pet waste bags, and aprons. Countries across the entire MENA region have begun to phase these products into regular use.
Since the successful growth of Uber rival Careem, ride-hailing apps have become commonplace within the Arab region. However, Oman’s Pink Line has something different to offer than its other regional competitors. It is the nation’s first ride-hailing app to serve female clientele exclusively.
The developers at Pink Line wanted to create a platform that would give local women peace of mind when booking taxis across town. To this end, the startup only employs female taxi drivers. This makes it safer and more affordable for local women to travel while giving hard-working female drivers a reliable source of income.
Pink Line also makes it easier for women to connect with female taxi services in their areas. After these services first became available nationwide in 2016, they were too localized for many women to find them. Now, travelers can easily find drivers to take them safely to their destinations. As a result of its innovative solutions, Pink Line took home the top prize in the 2018 Global Entrepreneurship Week (GEW) startup contest.
The second-place winner at Startup Battle Muscat, Hadaya is an e-commerce site for those looking to order flowers and other gifts. The platform originated as an online flower shop, but soon expanded its focus to other products as a way of reaching a wider audience. Today, Hadaya features items from more than 60 brands in Muscat and has plans to open its first brick-and-mortar store.
Hadaya’s customers can not only order flowers through the site, they can also send desserts, accessories, and other presents to their loved ones. The platform also allows them to shop for items based on the occasion, so its clientele know they are ordering appropriate gifts.
ClickForMeal is the first startup of its kind in Oman. It provides locals with an avenue through which they can discover restaurants in their area and order delicious meals. Users can search for places to eat by type of cuisine and delivery area, so they will know what is available near them.
When they find a restaurant that they would like to try, they can peruse through the latest menus and read other customers’ feedback before placing an order. With options ranging from takeaway to delivery, ClickForMeal users can always find something to fit their needs.
ClickForMeal’s services are also beneficial to business owners, who can use the site to reach wider audiences. Moreover, the platform improves the accuracy of orders and helps restauranteurs save valuable time.
Launched in Muscat in 2014, OTaxi provides affordable, convenient taxi services to its users. In a city where the taxi business has seen a reduction in demand due to unpredictability of fares, the startup has become the go-to solution for on-demand ride hailing across the city. OTaxi leverages mobile technology to connect its users to local transportation services from registered drivers.
Through the platform’s mobile app, locals can book rides to any destination and receive fare estimates before even getting in the passenger seat. They can pay for rides directly in the app, so there are no questions as to what they have been charged. OTaxi’s services are available at any time of day or night, thus ensuring that its users can safely get to their destinations without hassle.