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Startup Rising

The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East

By Christopher M. Schroeder
12-minute read
Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East by Christopher M. Schroeder

The Arab Spring uprisings left much of the Middle East politically unchanged, but they made a whole lot of noise. And yet there’s a second, quieter revolution taking place in the same region – and it’s all about the rise of tech and entrepreneurialism. Through stories of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs living in Beirut, Amman, Dubai, Istanbul and elsewhere, Startup Rising shows an entire region reinventing itself as a center of economic opportunity.

  • Anyone who’s fascinated by the Middle East, and wants to know more about life after the Arab Spring
  • Anyone keen to learn about the global impact of technology and entrepreneurship
  • Anyone interested in the role women play in the Arab world’s tech space

Christopher M. Schroeder is an entrepreneur and venture capitalist. He has written extensively on start-ups and the Middle East for the Wall Street Journal, Harvard Business Review, TechCrunch and others.

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Startup Rising

The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East

By Christopher M. Schroeder
  • Read in 12 minutes
  • Contains 7 key ideas
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Startup Rising: The Entrepreneurial Revolution Remaking the Middle East by Christopher M. Schroeder
Synopsis

The Arab Spring uprisings left much of the Middle East politically unchanged, but they made a whole lot of noise. And yet there’s a second, quieter revolution taking place in the same region – and it’s all about the rise of tech and entrepreneurialism. Through stories of Middle Eastern entrepreneurs living in Beirut, Amman, Dubai, Istanbul and elsewhere, Startup Rising shows an entire region reinventing itself as a center of economic opportunity.

Key idea 1 of 7

Innovative entrepreneurship is on the rise in the Middle East.

Today, innovation is happening all over the world, and economic success is appearing in even the most unlikely places.

Consider the fact that Nokia was created in Finland – a country mostly known for its wood products. Similarly, M-Pesa, a company that represents almost half of all mobile payments globally, was created in Kenya.

So why is so much innovation happening outside the bounds of Silicon Valley? Well, it’s partly because of the rapid rise of cheap, easy access to software and information.

And today, that innovation is now also happening in the Middle East, with the emergence of a new generation of entrepreneurs. And major global private equity firms, investors and tech companies are taking notice. Google, Intel, Cisco, Yahoo!, LinkedIn and PayPal have all made significant investments in the Middle East, despite political instability. Google, for example, has recently opened an office in Cairo.

So what’s behind the Middle East’s entrepreneurial rise? Well, there are three main factors.

First, technology offers an irreversible level of transparency, connectivity and inexpensive access to capital and markets. The rising generation of entrepreneurs has never known a world before tech, and it’s still a young market overall, with over 100 million people under the age of 15.

The second factor behind the Middle East’s rise in innovation is that today’s investors are comfortable with political risk. The impressive economic growth of the BRIC countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China) has shown the world that political instability needn’t deter investment.

And there’s one more factor supporting the Middle East’s entrepreneurial rise: Although changing market dynamics and economic growth were set in motion before the uprisings, it was the uprisings themselves that persuaded younger generations that the world was ripe for change. What once seemed impossible now seems attainable, and they feel that they can make a difference in their countries and in their economies.

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