10 Start-ups in the Middle East to Watch Out in 2021

The UAE is famous for many things: Some of the important legends will be the city of Dubai, where the rich and famous live with their glamorous cars. Another noted thriving legend recently will be the well-developing start-ups. 

Although the recent pandemic hit very much like in the entire world, still some companies thrived this pandemic incredibly quickly by consulting and surpassing customer needs. 

Investors have been funding about $150 MM Series E-Investment in EPMG, and that was considered to be an enormous investment in the region.

In the mid of the pandemic the investors didn’t pull back their funds but they altered it into larger stage deals and more proven opportunities. We know UAE is currently home to 33 of the region’s highest-funded startups, Saudi Arabia with 7 startups and Egypt with 4.

Most active investors in the MENA region were 500 startups with 10 investments, RAED ventures with 8 investments, and WAMDA capital with 7 investments. 

Although they faced challenges in the global pandemic, 29 startups in the UAE together raised a splendid funding pull of $425 million in 2020.

The popular startup sectors in MENA in the year 2020 are FinTech, Agritech, Transport, and Delivery. 

Let’s leap into the startups that made it to the top list: 

  1. Nana: Instacart for Saudi Arabia
Image Source: Nana

Nana is the Instacart for Saudi Arabia. 

During the COVID-19 lockdown, Instacart increased its order volume upto 500% and doubled its valuation upto $20 Billion. 

Founded in 2016, Nana raised upto $29 million from investors. This startup currently has branches in14 cities across Saudi Arabia. It has partnered with local supermarkets like Carrefour, Panda, and more. 

  1. NymCard: Card issuing and payment processing platform
Image Source: NymCard

Fintech has explored across the Middle East for the past 5 years. 

They launched NymCard in the year 2018 to supply a latest cloud-based swipe card issuing and transforming policies for these surfacing fintech startups and renovate MENA banks. 

Recently, NymCard has signed partnerships with Visa and Mastercard. As banks update their technologies in the Middle East and new Fintech startups continue to transpire, NymCard is in a much better position to serve their card issuing and payment processing demands. 

  1. Tabby: Buy now, Pay later
Image Source: Tabby

Tabby, established in 2019, is a buy-now-pay-later startup acquired from Dubai. The company associates with retailers to provide their customers, both online and in-store, the potentiality to delay paying for their purchases for upto 30 days or to pay in installments for four months at no cost for the shoppers. 

The company acquired funds in their December 2020 Series A with Abu Dhabi acquired investor Mubadala Investment Company. Also, the company has partnered with Visa and linked with the Saudi Arabian Central Bank’s administrative head for Fintech businesses in the same year. 

Tabby is in a better position in 2021 to aid from the customer demand for this service. 

  1. Mamo Pay: Venmo for Dubai
Image Source: Mamo Pay

Mamo Pay, is a Dubai-based parallel premium app, started in December 2020. In short, it is called Venmo for Dubai. 

P2P is a thrust in markets in the Middle East for arrival and enlargement into associated financial services. 

Although they are in the early stage, they have got many users who are actively using this platform to issue them enough scale to increase auxiliary services. 

  1. Load-Me: Local and Cross-Border Trucking Inventory Marketplace
Image Source: Load Me

Many startups have disrupted transportation in MENA, for the last 5 years. Load-Me launched in 2016, is another name in the fast-growing startup.

They have clients like Unilever, P&G, Kuhne+ Nagel. It has raised $6.3 million to launch its technology in 2020. 

  1. Pure Harvest Smart Farms: Vertical Warehouse Farming, UAE
Image Source: Pure Harvest

Vertical Farming as a trend is growing in large numbers as USA companies like AeroFarms and Plenty have invested about $238 MM and $541 MM, respectively. This approach had brought much produce from importing, which was very expensive in the otherwise hot and dry environment of the Middle East. 

They established Pure Harvest in 2016, and apply controlled environment agriculture technology to grow fresh fruits and vegetables in high-tech greenhouse facilities. They currently generate over 20 varieties of tomatoes and six varieties of strawberries. 

In April 2020, Pure Harvest partnered with a Massive Series A of $110 Million along with Wafra International Investment Company, to expand in both Kuwait and UAE.  

  1. Sary: B2B Marketplace for Inventory
Image Source: Sary

Sary is an android App where Saudi Arabian shopkeepers can purchase inventory with clear prices, deliver it the next day, and strong order tracking. It associates with mini-supermarkets, restaurants, cafes, and hotels with registered suppliers. 

Sary was established in 2018, and set foot in rapid scaling mode, escalating $6.6 Million in 2020 alone to inflate their mark in Saudi Arabia.  

  1. Noon Academy: Social Learning Platform for the Middle East
Image Source: Noon Academy

Noon Academy is a rapidly growing learning platform in the Middle East that has over 9 million registered students, who joined in 2020. 

Students can combine study groups with their comrades and are taught by the best teachers in Saudi Arabia. Teachers can increase the fan base of students, pick their hours, and get extra income. 

Noon in Saudi Arabia is likely to become VIP Kid or GoGoKid, a Chinese counterpart who picked up during the pandemic. 

  1. Quiqup: Supply Chain Management + Same Day Delivery for Retails/Restaurants
Image Source: Quiqup

Quiqup is another version of Amazon in the UAE. Their delivery is fast based on the locations, delivered on the same day, also if customers have scheduled their orders with time and they are prompt to deliver it. This became their success.

Their funding is about $47.5 MM and it is growing. 

  1.  JustClean: Laundry Service App
Image Source: Just Clean

They launched JustClean in 2016, an on-demand laundry marketplace application in Kuwait. Customers can schedule their laundry service weekly, biweekly, monthly, or just one time pickup. 

Its total funding is $20 MM, and it’s fast growing. 

I, Priya Nagarajan, is a past Assistant Professor, mentor, tutor, counselor. Writing has always been a passion of mine and so changed my path to my passion. I believe language is the best way to convey your thoughts and dreams to get the results. I believe it takes a personal approach to reach individual success. I write with a flair for creativity and a keen eye for the professional.

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