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World Economic Forum Picks Top 100 Start-ups in Arab World

18 May, 2017
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Things are changing in the Middle East thanks to a growing pool of entrepreneurs. To highlight these efforts, the World Economic Forum has selected the top 100 start-ups shaping the Arab world in what it calls the “Fourth Industrial Revolution”.

The forum partnered with the International Finance Corporation to pick the top 100, which were selected to take part in the annual regional conference on May 19 and 20 in Jordan. Representatives from the start-ups will meet with over 1,000 leaders in business, government and civil society at this year’s conference, which aims to create a space for collaboration between all invitees. 

“A vast majority of the 100 are building their business model, products and services on new technologies like artificial intelligence, blockchain, and satellite technology – pioneering a generational transformation in the Middle East and North Africa – while at the same time serving basic needs such as transportation, communication or payment processing,” explained a World Economic Forum press release on May 10. “With the help of these companies, it is possible to order food home-cooked by refugees, teach children to code, get medical support online, make payments securely, or chat with bots in Arabic.”

Head of the Middle East and North Africa at the World Economic Forum Mirek Dusek called the story of start-ups the “biggest underreported story in the region”, noting that what is inspiring about this list of start-ups is the challenging conditions under which they were formed, from economic downturns to conflict zones in Yemen, Libya and Syria. 

The list features a wide range of start-ups focusing on a multitude of different services and ideas. Egypt will be represented by 14 prominent start-ups, including KarmSolar, Fawry and Rise-Up. While every country in MENA is represented on the list, the United Arab Emirates tops with the most, with a collective 28 start-ups featured. Jordan comes in second with 20. Take a look at the full list here.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is a concept that created the theme for last year’s World Economic Forum in Davos. Also known as 4IR, the concept builds on the Third Industrial Revolution, known as the digital revolution, and is “characterized by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres,” according to Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab.  

Tags World Economic Forum Middle East start-up