Forbes Middle East
Forbes Middle East
50 Most Promising U.A.E. Startups50 Most Promising U.A.E. Startups
50 Most Promising U.A.E. Startups

Last year, FORBES MIDDLE EAST launched its first ever list of promising U.A.E. startups, amid a burgeoning entrepreneurial scene. We have expanded it from 25 to 50, with an additional 50 to watch. Despite a tougher economic environment, venture capitalists are not holding back. Several startups were able to raise funds since the beginning of the year, including the Luxury Closet, BitOasis, and SocialDice. And recently, Dubai-based accelerator Turn 8 announced a new $60 million fund to invest primarily in its graduates at the seed and series A level. Of the top 50 most promising startups, 28 have raised a minimum of $1 million for a total of at least $160 million from venture firms, corporate venture arms and angel investors. At the head of the list is on-demand car service Careem, which represents more than 40% of that total amount. Private equity firm Abraaj Group led its $60 million series C round this past November. Thirty-two startups have raised money from angel investors (excluding friends and family), and 24 on our 50 To Watch list are still bootstrapping. Startups have been forthcoming in disclosing funding, with only five out of 100 refusing to share that information. We’ve tried to keep copycats at a minimum, although two pop up at the top of the list: both Compare it 4 me and Souqalmal allow consumers to shop around for financial products, and have raised $5.6 million and $4.5 million, respectively. Fetchr, Instashop and Wing are in the logistics business in different ways. Wing was formed this year with backing from, emerging as a competitor to Fetcher in the quest to modernize delivery services in the region. In the absence of valuations, which are the ideal measure of a startup’s “hotness,” we ranked companies based on the amount of funding raised. We also looked at backers, the team, and the potential market reach of each business. Startups had to be at most 5 years old.

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