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Saudi Arabia to Rank among World’s Top Localizers of Tech Startups

Saudi Arabia to Rank among World’s Top Localizers of Tech Startups

Sunday, 7 March, 2021 - 10:30
Saudi Arabia leads the Middle East in investing in technology startups. (Asharq Al-Awsat)

Experts are predicting that Saudi Arabia will rank among the world’s top sources for tech startups by 2022, basing their projection on a recent report that ranked Riyadh as second in terms of number of investors and startups in the sector.

The Kingdom is exerting continuous efforts to localize tech industries and enhance startup incubators for Saudi innovation. For mega projects in Saudi Arabia, like “The Line,” technology, artificial intelligence and the internet of things are vital.

According to the report, startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region registered a record number of 256 active investors during 2020, a year that was heavily challenged by the coronavirus pandemic. The figure reflects a 19% year-on-year increase compared to 2019.

In 2020, the investments in startups totaled around one billion dollars.

Saudi Arabia is implementing its plans in a thoughtful manner and with the support of its leaders, Abdullah Al-Melehi, an investor in technology, told Asharq Al-Awsat.

Apart from nurturing the partnership between the public and private sectors, the Kingdom is working greatly on developing and increasing the number of startups focused on innovation, he added.

This works to promote technological industries in line with the Kingdom's shift towards smart cities.

Al-Melehi asserted that Saudi efforts will likely double the size of tech startups in the Kingdom, where they are offered highly professional, financial and moral support.

According to the new tech industry report, published by “MAGNiTT,” Saudi Arabia ranked second after the UAE with 22% of the number of investors in 2020.

The report pointed out that “500 Startups,” which is backed by the “500 Falcons,” was the most invested in the MENA region in 2020. It pumped funds to 42 projects spanning across various sectors in the region.

Finance technology came on top of the sectors that achieved growth in demand during 2020 due to the pandemic with 63 companies investing in e-payment solutions.

The report, however, revealed that the activity of startup accelerators and incubators in the region had shrunk by 28% on an annual basis during 2020. Startup incubators accounted for only 10% of the total active investors in the region due to the economic impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

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