6 of the Best Startups for Foodies in the Middle East

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It’s a great time to be a foodie in the Middle East. Local food scenes are beginning to come into their own, bringing with them delicious meals that are sure to delight any palate. However, the Arab food and beverage industry encompasses far more than just restaurants. The region’s flourishing entrepreneurial climate has set the stage for many successful startups.

Where some are creating foods for local consumers, others are helping their clients discover new places to eat and expand their culinary horizons. With the recent introduction of the Middle East’s first food accelerator, Savour, the region will only continue to see more groundbreaking ideas from food-focused startups in the future.

Here are some of the best startups for food lovers in the Middle East today:

 

  1. Akelni

AkelniAkelni provides Egyptians with an avenue through which they can order their favorite meals and find new eateries. Available online and through a mobile app, the service allows users to locate restaurants in their area by specifying their city or region. Akelni provides them with a list of all eateries that deliver food and the menu items available. This convenient format allows users to order food quickly and even to discover new restaurants in their area. Users can also recommend their favorite restaurants for inclusion on the app and site.

When ordering via Akelni, users can pay up front with credit card or cash on delivery. With over 30,000 meals to choose from, the app makes dining out more convenient for hungry locals.

 

  1. Breadfast

BreadfastServing 10 cities across Egypt, Breadfast is an online platform through which people can buy fresh-baked goods with no hassle. Instead of having to buy bakery items ahead of time and freeze and defrost them as needed, users can simply place their order and have their favorite breads, muffins, and pastries delivered to their doorstep.

Breadfast accepts orders until 10 p.m. the night before delivery. All its products are baked fresh every night. The next day, the company delivers each customer’s order right to their front door at the time specified in their order. From internationally popular items such as croissants and baguettes to regional favorites like feteer meshaltet and baladi bread, Breadfast offers a wide array of delicious baked goods.

 

  1. Eat

EatHeadquartered in Bahrain, Eat has quickly become one of the biggest platforms for restaurant reservations in the Middle East. To date, the startup has helped over 2 million diners book tables at more than 800 restaurants across the region.

Eat specializes in fine dining and partners with a multitude of restaurants to provide users with truly unique experiences. Users can search for eateries by city and view the available seating in real time. As they make their selections, Eat confirms their reservations immediately.

 

  1. Baristas’ Corner

BaristasCornerThe team behind Baristas’ Corner set out to create a higher caliber of coffee shop for Dubai residents. Catering to both casual coffee drinkers and connoisseurs alike, the startup offers what its founders refer to as the ever-elusive “consistently exceptional cup of coffee.” Moreover, Baristas’ Corner captures the unique atmosphere of the traditional coffeehouse, providing a place for people to hang out as well as work.

Baristas’ Corner purchases its coffee from sustainable growers around the globe and creates its own unique blends. Its baristas follow specific steps when preparing each brew, thereby ensuring consistency in every cup. In addition, Baristas’ Corner offers services to businesses in the coffee industry. From barista training to machine servicing, these solutions help fledgling coffee shops thrive.

 

  1. Elmenus

ElmenusAn easy-to-use food delivery app, Elmenus allows users to search for foods by restaurant or type of cuisine. It doesn’t matter if they are looking for tried-and-true favorites, crave a certain dish, or want to branch out and try something new. On Elmenus, users can quickly find dine-out and delivery options in their neighborhood.

Users can place and pay for delivery orders online, then track their orders right to their door. In addition, those who want to dine out can peruse menus from local restaurants, to help them decide where and what they should eat.

 

  1. mix&muesli

A graduate of Savour’s accelerator program, mix&muesli is providing healthy, delicious breakfast food options to those in the UAE and beyond. The startup’s founders developed the concept for their business after struggling to find the perfect muesli in shops. Since they couldn’t find an option that was exactly right, they decided to create a website that would allow people to order customized muesli mixes.

Customers first select a base from various grain options, then choose from a range of fruits and nuts to create their personalized muesli mix. The startup uses natural, chemical-free ingredients, so customers are able to enjoy a healthier alternative to most muesli products. Whether they create their own muesli or choose from one of mix&muesli’s pre-made mixes, customers can have their orders shipped to them.

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7 of the Most Impressive STEP 2019 Participants

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STEP Conference is one of the leading startup events in the Middle East today. Every year, entrepreneurs from across the region flock to the event’s four conferences to showcase their groundbreaking business ideas to new audiences. STEP also serves as a forum where these emerging business owners can find mentors and meet one-on-one with investors who can help their startups flourish.

2019 is already shaping up to be a busy year for STEP, with more than 300 startups slated for participation in its four Startup Basecamps. Let’s take a look at some of the most impressive startups that will be highlighting their work at STEP this year:

 

  1. NoQ

NoQ logoThe Dubai-based NoQ is making queuing a thing of the past by allowing people to pre-order from registered businesses across the UAE. Through the startup’s mobile app, users can bypass the queue at their favorite stores and have their purchases brought right to their cars. NoQ makes ordering simple: users need only choose the store, make their item selections, and pay directly in the app. They can pick up their purchase within minutes, instead of waiting in a queue to order or pay for their items.

NoQ users also have access to valuable perks. By referring friends to the app, for example, they receive in-app credits and other rewards. They can also send digital gift cards to friends and family, which enable them to save on purchases at their favorite NoQ partners.

 

  1. Spogo

spogologoThose in the UAE who are looking to stay active can use Spogo to find sporting clubs, gyms, and personal trainers in their area. Users can search the site for activities based on criteria such as age, location, and level of expertise required. When perusing results, they’ll find information about each club’s membership rates and the classes they offer. These results also feature comments and ratings from other Spogo members. This enables users to easily find the clubs and trainers that match their fitness needs.

 

  1. Healthigo

HealthigoAn innovative telehealth platform, Healthigo is making it easier for patients to find the healthcare they need from physicians in their area. With services optimized for both individuals and organizations, the startup is improving health across the Middle East.

Those looking to book appointments can do so through the Healthigo mobile app, which allows users to search for providers based on insurance, location, medical specialty, and other criteria. Users can also create profiles for all their family members, so they can find the best providers for each person’s particular healthcare needs. In addition, Healthigo provides users with deals on health and wellness services, such as dental care and esthetician services.

 

  1. Taddrees

TaddreesParents who need to find qualified tutors for their children can do so through Taddrees. From tutoring in a particular subject to test preparation, parents can find and book private tutoring sessions in the app. All tutors have been vetted, and they possess certification or diplomas. Tutoring sessions take place in users’ homes. This enables parents to find the support that their children need to achieve academic success, for less time and money.

 

  1. Stylar

StylarStylar leverages Big Data, artificial intelligence, and fashion industry expertise to bring fashionistas in the Middle East a new kind of stylist. For fashion industry professionals, Stylar Pro provides reports and analytics about industry trends, competitors, and pricing. Meanwhile, Stylar is a social media app for individual consumers. Users can browse photos of the latest styles spotted on the streets, and directly purchase items that match those in each photo. Users can also save their favorite photos or upload their own to share their looks with followers.

 

  1. Yanzo

YanzoAvailable through Whatsapp, Yanzo acts as a personal concierge to residents of Dubai. Users can text requests for anything they need. For instance, if someone forgot their computer at home, they can text Yanzo to send someone to pick it up and deliver it to their location. Yanzo can book flights, hotels, and other travel; shop; and order items for delivery. The platform can also help users create to-do lists, hire help for any occasion, and much more. Users can ask for anything, as long as it’s legal and possible.

Yanzo tries to find the best available deals on all purchases. Users must confirm all prices before finalizing deals, so they always know what they owe. Yanzo fulfills payments on their behalf, so there’s no need to input credit or debit card information.

 

  1. FindMyFit

FindMyFitHeadquartered in Sharjah, UAE, FindMyFit helps users find and book sessions with certified personal trainers who can help them get fit and healthy. The site features trainers for nearly any fitness need. Whether they want to lose weight, add more muscle, or begin practicing yoga, users can choose from a list of personal trainers with a variety of skills and expertise.

Users can book appointments with their trainer of choice and pay directly through FindMyFit. From single sessions to larger workout packages, they can work with their trainer to create a fitness schedule that will help them achieve their goals.

You Need to Know about These 5 Arab Beauty Startups

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Beauty is booming in the Middle East. The local beauty industry, which was worth $15.9 billion in 2016, is expected to grow to a staggering $20.9 billion by 2021. Expanding at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.5 percent, the Arab beauty sector is seeing more than double the growth of the global market.

The Middle Eastern beauty market is experiencing such dramatic growth for several key reasons. First, locals are spending more money per capita each year. Additionally, the region’s younger generations are becoming increasingly concerned about their appearances. As a result, they are turning more towards personal grooming.

Startups are also playing a key role in the growth of the Arab beauty market. From the UAE to Kuwait, entrepreneurs have established businesses that are helping those in the Middle East find the beauty products and services that will help them look their best.

Here are a few Arab beauty startups that you should be keeping on your radar:

 

  1. The Camel Soap Factory

camelsoapfactorySince its inception in 2014, The Camel Soap Factory has produced a diverse line of camel milk-based beauty products. In recent years, the use of camel milk in products has become a rising trend in the Middle East.

An increasing number of food items and cosmetics feature this substance. The Camel Soap Factory has entered this niche. The company caters to a growing client base of locals and tourists who are looking for products that use this traditional Arabic ingredient.

Operating out of a 2,800-square-foot warehouse in Dubai, The Camel Soap Factory strives for sustainability in all its manufacturing activities. Because it makes its soaps by hand, the startup creates minimal waste and leaves a small carbon footprint.

The Camel Soap Factory also abstains from the use of artificial ingredients and harmful substances. This results in more natural products.

 

  1. Shedul

schedulIn 2015, the founders of Shedul sought to fill a gap in the Middle Eastern online booking market. Locals had numerous options for hiring rides and reserving tables at restaurants. However, there was no platform that enabled them to book appointments at spas and salons.

Headquartered in Dubai, Shedul has developed innovative software that makes it easier for businesses to book and manage client appointments. By digitizing their booking systems, these businesses can take charge of customer relations like never before.

Shedul allows companies to store client service histories, manage their contact information, and send them notifications about their appointments. With additional point of sales capabilities built right into the platform, users are sure to satisfy their clientele.

On the consumer end, Shedul boasts an online booking feature that allows clients to set beauty appointments on salon websites or Facebook pages. They can fully manage their appointments in the app. This gives them the freedom to cancel or make changes to their bookings at any time.

 

  1. Golden Scent

GoldenScentEntrepreneurs Malik Shehab and Ronny Froehlich developed their startup, Golden Scent, to provide Middle Eastern consumers with more options when it came to beauty products. From Lancôme to Gucci, the site features authentic products from more than 350 international brands. Additionally, it incorporates new items on a weekly basis.

Through Golden Scent, consumers can discover new fragrances, purchase their favorite skincare products, find the latest beauty tools, and more. The variety of items on offer ensures that they will find all that they need to achieve their desired looks. Golden Scent also helps its customers discover new products by providing complimentary beauty samples with each purchase.

 

  1. Instaglam

instaglamIn the era of on-demand technology startups such as Careem and Washmen, Instaglam is bridging the gap between this field and the beauty industry with its innovative service-booking app. The startup is more than a platform for making appointments with beauty professionals. It allows users to hire services at a moment’s notice.

From those who need hairdressers for their weddings to those wanting to get dolled up for a night out, Instaglam users can instantly connect with beauty specialists who will help them achieve the right look for any occasion.

When booking services, they need only specify what they need done, at what time, and where. From there, they can choose from Instaglam’s list of available professionals and transfer payment directly through the app before meeting for their services.

 

  1. Boutiqaat

BoutiqaatAnother e-commerce platform dedicated to selling beauty products, Boutiqaat is a leader in Kuwait’s growing beauty sector. Founded in 2015, the startup features some of the most in-demand brands from around the globe. Boutiqaat also sells several exclusive product lines. Whether they are looking for the latest eyeshadow palettes or their favorite hair care items, consumers can find something to meet any of their beauty needs on the site.

Boutiqaat is unique in that it allows local and global celebrities to create their own “boutiques.” The feature enables them to share their recommendations for beauty products. This fosters the discovery of new products and gives consumers the peace of mind that they will be buying authentic items.

7 of the Most Innovative 2018 AIM Startup Participants

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In 2017, the UAE Ministry of Economy set out to provide technology startups from the local region and beyond with more opportunities for funding. To this end, the ministry established AIM Startup, an initiative that builds bridges between emerging startups and global investors. Every year, the organization hosts a startup showcase for businesses looking to pitch their ideas to new audiences. AIM Startup has become a major source of not only funding, but also thriving business partnerships.

This April, AIM Startup will welcome 500 startups from 25 countries worldwide. In 2018, the initiative highlighted an exciting group of startups from a broad range of industries, from transportation services to hospitality.

Here’s a look back at some of the most innovative AIM Startup participants from 2018:

 

  1. VoxEra

VoxEraBased in Cairo, Egypt, VoxEra is shaking up the regional telecom sector with its innovative communication solution for busy travelers. Unlike traditional phone services, which require users to pay roaming fees when they call or text while abroad, the startup offers a solution that provides free roaming.

Before they depart for their trips, users remove the SIM cards from their mobile phones and insert them into their VoxEra device. To activate their free roaming services, they must connect to the Internet and download the startup’s mobile application. The app allows them to keep in touch with their loved ones during their travels without the stress of roaming fees.

 

  1. 360Moms

360Moms360Moms is a groundbreaking platform that aggregates information for mothers and families in the Middle East. Through the site, users can seek professional advice from more than 70 child development and parenting experts in its online community. These individuals answer questions from curious parents and write articles on the site. From pregnancy to parenting help, the site’s content is both informative and encouraging.

Aside from its written content, 360Moms provides information to parents through webinars and videos. The startup also frequently hosts workshops for those looking to learn about childcare, first aid, and other parenting topics. In addition, 360Moms offers the Mamas Rewards Card, which provides discounts on children’s activities and products, restaurants, clothing, and a variety of other goods and services.

 

  1. Darajtee

DarajteeBased in Jordan, Darajtee is providing locals with a reliable, eco-friendly option for their daily transportation. The startup has a fleet of dockless bicycles that allow users to make short trips around town at their leisure. By downloading the Darajtee app on their smartphones, users can scan the QR code located on the bicycle they would like to rent and unlock it for use. When they are done, they can leave it in any location for the next rider to enjoy.

Darajtee is targeting its service at students and travelers, focusing on the areas around universities and popular hotels in city centers. With adaptable frames suitable for both genders and comfortable seats, the startup’s fleet of bicycles is accessible to anyone.

 

  1. Hadaya.om

Hadaya.omEntrepreneurs Ahmed and Alla Albalushi founded Hadaya.om after recognizing a gap in the Omani e-commerce market. Along with their team, the pair sought to create an online service that allowed people to send high quality gifts to their loved ones. Hadaya.om boasts a diverse stock of gifts for men and women, including jewelry, colognes, perfumes, and watches, as well as additional options for sending flowers and sweet treats. This allows users to find the right present for any occasion.

 

  1. Oliv

olivThe Dubai-based Oliv is an online platform for college students and recent graduates who are looking to connect with local job opportunities. Over 1,000 firms have turned to the site to find qualified job applicants in virtually every industry. Applicants can work with the Oliv team to create a profile that highlights their skills and career goals. The startup also supports its users during the interview process, providing online resources and offering training to help them make a great impression. Whether they’re looking for an internship, a part-time job, or a full-time position, young people in the Middle East can use Oliv to find opportunities that match their skills, career priorities, and interests.

 

  1. Lexyom

LexyomSince its inception in 2016, Lexyom has made legal information and services more accessible to users in Lebanon and beyond. The team of founders, which includes both software specialists and experienced lawyers, created their startup to help people secure legal assistance quickly, on demand.

Lexyom relies on artificial intelligence to connect users to the legal services they need in a shorter amount of time. Natural language processing capabilities also enable the startup to translate legal jargon into layman’s terms. This makes it easier for users to understand Lexyom’s legal guides and articles, and to take control of their case.

Through Lexyom, users can also search for qualified lawyers in such specialties as real estate, criminal law, and family law. By providing on-demand access to legal services, the startup promotes faster, more affordable legal services.

 

  1. Akyas

AkyasAkyas is addressing one of the most pressing health crises affecting the developing world: diseases that spread via waste-contaminated water. To this end, the startup has developed a single-use toilet bag that helps to prevent human waste from contaminating drinking water sources. These kits enable users to dispose of human waste in a safe way, as the bag disinfects the waste and biodegrades over time. In addition, the kits include products for hand cleaning. Akyas is ideal for use in crisis zones and in communities that lack sanitary sewers.

5 Arab Startups You Need to Know About in 2019

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The past few years have brought a rising tide of success to the startup ecosystem in the Middle East. With many successful exits and even a few bonafide “unicorns,” several successful businesses have made headlines across the region. In 2019, it’s important to keep an eye on the latest startups that are making a name for themselves in the MENA business world.

From those that are fresh out of funding rounds to those that are just beginning to attract attention, here are a few of the Middle East startups you should be watching closely in 2019 and beyond:

 

Clearly

clearlyEstablished in 2016 and headquartered in Dubai, Clearly has revolutionized the financial technology (fintech) industry in the UAE with its innovative digital banking services. Users can conduct all their banking activities online, which gives them better control of their finances. Whether they need to transfer money to family members abroad or pay bills, users can manage their finances from their smartphone.

In addition, Clearly helps users save money by allowing them to track expenditures against their monthly income. Users who deposit funds into a Clearly savings account also receive more interest than that offered by traditional banks. And the more money they divert to their savings, the more interest they earn.

Borrowing and investing are also easy with Clearly, which provides users with an intuitive interface through which they can manage loans and investments. Users also have access to robo-advisors for guidance.

Clearly’s unique services have elicited $4.7 million in funding across two angel rounds, which has made the company a quickly rising player in the UAE financial services industry.

 

Kamkalima

KamkalimaLebanon’s Kamkalima was created after founder Siroun Shamigian left her career as a teacher to develop a platform for young students struggling to learn Arabic. Designed for students in grades 4 through 12, this startup is one of the first digital platforms of its kind to offer fun educational content focused on the Arabic language.

Since its launch in 2016, Kamkalima has built a diverse library of lesson plans for students of all skill levels. These lessons focus on speaking, writing, and reading Arabic, as well as related skills like critical thinking. Teachers who use Kamkalima in their classrooms can adjust the site’s lesson plans to meet the needs of their students. They can also upload writing assignments to the online library for use as in-class activities or test questions, which encourages more active participation from students.

 

Seez

SeezThe UAE-based Seez has been helping people buy and sell cars with less stress since 2015. The startup, which has received $2.8 million in funding, collects information about new and used vehicles for sale online in the UAE, Kuwait, and Saudi Arabia. In doing so, Seez provides users with the most accurate information about the cars they’re trying to buy or sell, including the fair market value. The site has also built a partner network that allows it to provide listings for dealer-certified vehicles.

Most notably, Seez leverages an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot called Cesar to recognize the make, model, and value of a car with only a photo of the vehicle. Cesar is also capable of handling 13 percent of negotiations with sellers without any human assistance, and its abilities improve as it interacts with more users.

 

Halan

HalanHalan, which completed a Series A round of funding worth millions of dollars in December 2018, is one of Cairo’s biggest up-and-coming startups. Entrepreneurs Mounir Nakhla and Ahmed Mohsen established the company to provide more affordable ride-sharing options to underserved communities, which did not have access to other digital transportation platforms. Nakhla leveraged his own experience in tuk-tuk (auto rickshaw) sales to turn Halan into a ride-booking app for these vehicles. Users can also request motorcycle rides.

To ensure passengers’ safety, Halan thoroughly vets its drivers and ensures that they complete a training program for their given vehicle. Passengers can book a ride with one of these “captains” through the startup’s app, which tells them the name of their driver and the cost of their trip. Halan also offers delivery services for both individuals and businesses.

 

Boksha

BokshaOne of the latest additions to the UAE startup scene, Boksha is an e-commerce marketplace that highlights the work of up-and-coming, independent designers from across the Middle East. Founders Yahya Mohamed and Faisal Falaknaz named their website after the fabric carrier that Arab street merchants once used to bring their wares to the marketplace. Taking inspiration from this tradition, Boksha allows brands to showcase their products to the world and provides them with the business tools they need to grow their online boutiques. Meanwhile, shoppers can find women’s apparel, accessories, perfume, bags, and “mommy and me” matching women’s and girl’s fashions from these local brands. Shoppers can also request custom designs or alterations.