The middle-east had been facing economic slow-down along with outdated policies for a long time. The project of recovering and revitalising the economy realised the role of entrepreneurship as key in bringing about growth and innovation. Entrepreneurship was actively adopted as the change maker. Though it is still in its formative years in the gulf region, some sectors have already begun to show promising results because of the growing start-up culture and its massive success.
The realisation of a lack of initiative on their part to enter and use digital economy to further their profits was a hard-hitting one for the Gulf countries. In the absence of regional enterprises, global players like google, amazon, uber etc had made a stronghold on the economy and were draining profits. About 80% of local spending was going to these global giants directly or indirectly.
A vacuum had been created in the service economy and local enterprises grabbed this challenge by coming up with innovative ideas to cater to the local needs and boost the economy.
Some early examples:
There is no lack of examples set by those who started off early and are already going big and profiteering by huge margins. Careem, a riding app founded in 2012 and based on the model of Ola and Uber, is giving tough competition to Uber in Dubai. It later expanded its business to food delivery and online payments as well.
Anghami is the first music platform and digital distribution company that was legally established in the Arab world in the year 2011 in Lebanon. Despite competition from apple music and other platforms like Spotify, the start-up has grown tremendously.
Similarly, a courier service and delivery company, Fetchr, was founded in 2012 and today operates in three countries- UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. From the beginning they had adopted could technology and a digital-only approach for their business model.
What are the hotspot sectors in the gulf?
Based on developments seen till now and speculations based on the nature of the economy, a few sectors have come up that are all set to become entrepreneurial hotspot in the coming years:
E-commerce: As is the case with every other part of the world, e-commerce is the go-to place that provides high certainty of success. In the gulf too, it is the most mature digital sector. There is an abundance of all kinds of markets online- those providing a platform for businesses to sell their products online, and retailers directly setting up their own websites. With the pandemic creating the push towards online purchasing, e-commerce is on the rise in the region.
Digital entertainment: Complex socio-political milieu of the region had prevented a uniform growth of the arts and entertainment industry. Several restrictions on content had crippled the entertainment industry from growth. However, digital entertainment has succeeded in creating a place in the Gulf and now start-ups that cater to entertainment needs of the population are coming up.
Delivery and Logistics: Delivery and Logistics has come up with a very innovative solution to the problem of addresses in the middle-east. Due to the lack or complete absence of traditional home addresses, the emerging logistics companies are using GPS technology to deliver products. With the rise seen in the e-commerce, an accurate and timely delivery partner was the need of the hour and many can tap into this opportunity created by the gap in delivery services.
Finance tech: Finance technology or those enabling digital payments and transfers have seen a steep rise in the Gulf. Many start-ups have come up providing solutions to problems specific to the Gulf region. Payfort, Fawry, PayTabs, etc., are a few examples of those who have made promising progress in this sector.
Travel: Although an underdeveloped sector, the travel industry is on the rise in the Gulf region and offers scope for innovative start-ups that can tap into the huge potential of inviting foreigners to the exotic lands that lie in the Gulf.
These sectors are going to be the hotspot for entrepreneurial activity over the coming years as new sectors will also begin to pop up. The gulf having a very different socio-cultural set-up as compared to the rest of the world, gives ample space for radically new ideas and innovation. The fact that entrepreneurship has just begun, opportunities are abundant and competition from other companies is relatively low. So gear up entrepreneurs to redefine and revitalise the Gulf!