Having only sprung up out of the desert in the last 45 years, the UAE has had to evolve fast to become a global player; to this end, the country has placed innovation at the center of its strategic vision. With its free trade zones and tax advantages, the region has emerged as a active startup hub, with local events like Gitex Technology Week serving as crucial venues to gather, exchange ideas, network and grow.
From ecommerce platforms for second-hand luxury goods to home services on-demand, here are 13 of the hottest startups in the country right now.
Wadi.com is an online shopping platform targeting Saudi Arabia and UAE that offers over 150,000 products, from mobile devices and electronics to beauty and sports/fitness items. The company is hot on the tail of recent Amazon acquisition Souq.com, the region’s largest ecommerce site.
Founded by Mona Ataya, a mum who saw a need in the market for the digital offering, Mumzworld offers a centralized ecommerce platform targeting newborns to 12-year olds. The website has been growing in popularity and features over 120,000 products.
mrUsta fulfills a widespread, critical need of most UAE residents: quality home services. Instead of having to pay unqualified service people for poor quality work, the startup allows users to search through a range of service providers, read reviews, and compare prices to select the best professional for the job.
The UAE’s population is always on-the-move—especially considering its high percentage of expats; to address the local demand for convenient car selling services, SellAnyCar.com takes the trouble out of selling a vehicle by evaluating it in seconds, and having the money for the car transferred on the same day.
Illuminate is a software development firm that specializes in turnkey and tailored web/mobile solutions. Some of its products include its Focus CRM solution and Cargo, a GPS vehicle tracking platform.
The Luxury Closet is a platform for buying and selling pre-owned luxury items. Founded in 2011 by Kunal Kapoor, the company offers its customers the promise of authenticity in their exchanges.
Starting out as a health insurance matching platform, Bayzat now offers insurance as well as HR technology solutions. Some of its customers include Deliveroo, Fetchr, and Properfinder.ae, to name a few.
Glambox offers a beauty box service that users can customize based on their interests; the monthly box can be ordered for themselves or gifted to a friend. The company places a surprise selection of the latest beauty products in the box so customers stay on top of current beauty trends.
Compareit4me.com is a financial services comparison website that helps users find the best credit cards and savings opportunities. The company has since expanded into 8 other Middle Eastern countries and now offers additional services like health insurance comparisons.
The UAE’s population is 85% expatriate; for most of them, money transfers are often inconvenient and involve a trip to an exchange outlet. Remitr has developed a platform that offers easy, safe international money transfers via mobile device.
GEEKS is the first service of its kind in the UAE, providing a wide range of technical services—from device repair to laptop troubleshooting. The company has been featured in various publications including Forbes and Inc., to name a few.
Formerly known as LaundryBox, MyBox is services on demand: the offering features automated collection boxes for a variety of services, from laundry/dry cleaning and shoe repair to device repair and package delivery. The company has been featured in TechCrunch, Forbes, and Arabian Business, to name a few.
Currently hailed as the AirBnB of the culinary world, ChefXchange allows users to book a private chef for an event or even a dinner at home, anywhere in the world. The app features a wide selection of chefs organized by type of experience and city.
With the purchase of Souq.com by Amazon, the evaluation of Careem at $1 billion, and the global ambitions of these 13 startups, it’s clear that the UAE’s tech innovators are worth paying attention to. Be sure to keep them in your sights in 2017 and beyond.