Now Reading:

Middle Eastern startups the talk of Le Web 2013


Middle Eastern startups the talk of Le Web 2013


One exciting element of this 10th edition at Le Web is bringing together inspiring startups and entrepreneurs from across the world that are breaking new ground in their fields.

One particular region with a thriving startup culture and high hopes for growth is the Middle East.

Hala Fadel is the chair of the MIT Enterprise Forum of the Pan-Arab region. This is how she describes the startup ecosystem in the region:

“The startup landscape in the Middle East is really booming. We have every year more than 5,000 companies that apply to the MIT Arab business plan competition, startup competition, about 50% of that is women.”

Elie Habib, the co-founder of the online music service Anghami is conscious that there are still hurdles to overcome.

“In some areas we still have problems. E-commerce, credit card penetration is still not as much as we want because people don’t trust as much as people in Europe or the US.”

If you are looking to invest in a Middle Eastern startup, Mohammed Johmani of Johmani Ventures has some advice:

“If you always look for a safe investment, you would be like playing with the kids, you will always win. But if you really want sustainable investment you need to take risk. I encourage the Arab ventures to take risks in the hundreds. They will fail with 99 but the one that makes it will cover all the losses.”

The Middle East is a region synonymous with conflict, but its young enterprising population is hoping for a better future. Hardware entrepreneur Hind Hobeika, founder and CEO of Instabeat, summed up the sentiment:

“I think what’s most promising about startups in the Middle East is actually the Middle Eastern people. We have gone through a lot, wars, instability, we don’t have electricity 24 hours during the day. This has pushed us to be really creative, to think outside the box, to prepare for situations that might happen so that we are not in deep trouble afterwards.”

Google + Hangouts on air provide the opportunity of live video chats for those who can’t be present at Le Web, whether they are in Asia or the Americas.

Ally who logged on from Malaysia wanted to know what the best way is to achieve long term success and how does location play a part in the success of a business. This is what Google’s Vice President of Product, Bradley Horowitz, had to say:

“Speaking about success generally is hard. I think the advice I would give is not different from many of the entrepreneurs that we’ve heard at Le Web, which is do something that is ambitious. Don’t think incrementally but think about a big change that would matter if you got it right. I would do something that you’re passionate about. Doing a startup or inventing a business is generally a lot of hard work and so when you reach the pit of despair and all hope is lost you want to have enough drive and commitment and passion to see through that and out the other end.”

And as far as location is concerned: “It dramatically depends on the type of business you’re doing. One of the things that I love about this new world that we share is that location is mattering less and less. We’re seeing interesting startups everywhere in the world and not just in the tech hubs that people are familiar with.”

Next Article