Where are the Middle East’s top tech hotspots?

A major technology report has been released covering everything from fintech to gaming, writes Justin Harper

Kate Midttun, Chairperson, Middle East Public Relations Association

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region is home to a number of ‘tech hotspots, according to a major new report.

The ‘MENA Tech 2023: Mapping the Technology Landscape’ report is one of the first in the region to bring together various topics within the space, from fintech to gaming, and has been put together by Doha-based communications agency BLJ Worldwide.

It singles out the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and Qatar as MENA’s overall top technology hotspots.

They have been chosen for various reasons including their high level of investment into future technologies, thriving start-up ecosystems and world-leading internet connectivity.

Justin Kerr-Stevens, CEO, BLJ Worldwide said: “Our report paints a picture of a diverse and rapidly evolving region. Once a relatively disparate collection of markets that largely followed the lead of economies such as the US and China, today MENA is a region that is recognised not only for its potential investment in tech but as a market that has its own distinct technological identity.”

The 50-plus page report, which examines eighteen countries was commissioned to explore the strength of exciting recent technological advancements in many MENA markets and has been compiled through a combination of desk research, sentiment analysis and expert opinion.

The incredible rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the prominence of women in Arabic e-sports and the region’s vast investment into future technologies are just some of the current themes and trends identified in the report.

By enlisting the views of prominent MENA-based personalities, including academics and CEOs of major home-grown companies, the study also makes pertinent future gazing predictions for tech in the region.

Kuwaiti gamer AboFlah, who has 28 million YouTube subscribers

The UAE is the region’s tech startup capital, with local companies raising $1.85bn in 2022. This is followed by KSA ($907 million) and Egypt ($736 million).

The report also outlines the region’s most prominent technological trailblazers across a variety of fields, including Kuwaiti gamer AboFlah, who has 28 million YouTube subscribers, and UAE-based Ambareen Musa, who founded Souqamal, the first online comparison site in the Arab world.

It also reveals ‘ones to watch’, including Hassan Al Ibrahim, Founder of Qatari eco-farm Heenat Salma, and Sara Sabry, the first Egyptian Astronaut and first Arab and African woman to go to space.

Kate Midttun, Chairperson, Middle East Public Relations Association said: “The dynamic landscape of this region presents unique opportunities for innovation and growth, but the value of human connection and real community must not be neglected.”