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Startups and venture capital in MENA - statistics & facts

Start-ups are business ventures in their early operations. In general, these companies try to approach the market with their new products or services with an innovative angle. In most cases, the initial funding of start-ups are bank rolled by their founders. In order to guarantee the success and growth of a start-up, outside funding is crucial and is often provided by venture capitalists. The majority of Middle East and North African startups have their headquarter in the United Arab Emirates, followed by Egypt and Jordan.
While the initial investment phase is critical in the funding of a start-up, the exit strategy of a venture capitalist is also of importance. The exit phase in the funding of a start-up defines the moment when the initial investor yields his gains or losses by exiting the start-up.

In the Middle East and North African region, the gender divide is still prevalent when it comes to the initiation of a business start-up.

Though the Gulf Cooperation Council is regarded as the most business-friendly sub-region in the Middle East and North Africa, the time required to start a new business can vary from 6.3 days in Oman to over one month in Kuwait.

Delivery and transportation are the leading start-up industries in the Middle East and North Africa. This is also reflected in the first two startup unicorns in the Middle East and North Africa. The rideshare company careem and online retailer souq.com were the first MENA startups to reach this status.
Amongst all Middle East and North African countries, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates are ranked the highest in regards to the ease of minority investor protection.
The number of funding deals for start-ups across the entire Middle East and North African region has steadily risen in the past couple of years, with about 564 deals recorded only in 2019.

The global COVID-19 pandemic had a strong impact on start-ups in the middle east as well as worldwide. Further information on the COVID-19 effect on the global start-up scene can be found here.

Interesting statistics

In the following 5 chapters, you will quickly find the 24 most important statistics relating to "Startups and venture capital in the Middle East and North Africa".

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