The Arab region has been witnessing a technological revolution that's been long overdue. From being known as oil-rich countries covered in sand to becoming top 5G providers and tech hubs for most multinational companies, there's no overlooking the MENA region anymore.
The UAE, if we are to zoom in on the area, is the perfect example that embodies this transformation. From within it, foreigners of all nationalities find their path to success, each at their own pace.
With such motivated individuals around - those who venture into unfamiliar territories and go all in into building a business - both the economy and the people thrive. Their success, especially if it's a first in their field, suddenly becomes of importance to investors, incubators, and international firms.
In a hasty world where time is money and skills are electronically gained in no time, guidance will remain a key element to any startup's launch.
Here are the success stories of four UAE-based startups who dared to look beyond the 9-5 job and explore novice possibilities needed around them:
Ziina – UAE's first licensed peer-to-peer payment app
"When we launched Ziina, we wanted to get our product in the hands of users fast. We believed this was the best way to refine our product and build the perfect user experience," the founding team, made up of Faisal Toukan, Co-Founder and CEO, Sarah Toukan, Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer, and Andrew Gold, Co-Founder and Head of Engineering, told us.
"We were prepared to rapidly launch because of access to resources like Microsoft for Startups. Microsoft Azure's cloud's infrastructure enabled us to easily and securely deploy our cloud services so that we could focus on making our product great for our users.
Our goal has always been for Ziina to become the way you split that Careem bill, pay for services, send money to your friend after a night out, pay for your package, and support local artists. Since its launch, we've been able to make significant headway towards that goal. We've heard from so many users that they've been waiting for a peer-to-peer payment app in the UAE for the longest time, and that wait is now over with Ziina," the team continued.
"We want to bring financial freedom to everyone in the region, and Ziina's partnership with Microsoft for Startups on Microsoft Azure has been immensely impactful in building towards that vision. We're thrilled to see this relationship flourish as we move forward into the future," they added.
Designhubz – 3D/AR shopping experience
"Designhubz began generating revenues directly after its launch in 2019. Within a year of being founded, Designhubz joined Techstars, one of the leading accelerators globally, raised VC funds and recently joined 500 Startups Global Launch Singapore to scale up in Asia," said Nadim Habr, CEO of Designhubz, a platform that enables brands and retailers to sell their products in 3D and Augmented Reality (AR) on their websites and apps.
"Designhubz' technology is currently being used by international giants such as IKEA who deployed the 3D/AR technology across its websites in more than 4 markets," Habr explained.
"One of Designhubz' main partners is Microsoft through Microsoft for Startups Co-selling program that helps the company scale up and offer its technology to some of the largest brands locally and globally. The program also offers several perks such as Azure cloud credits and great technical support that help cutting cloud costs and deploying a highly scalable and available cloud infrastructure," the CEO continued.
ScriptDoor – Content creator platform
"Many talented creators with passion, perseverance, colorful imagination, intellectual curiosity, and emotional sensitivity never go onto earning a sustainable income. Creative content producers have always faced many challenges from complicated contracts to the difficulty of distribution.
The purpose of ScriptDoor is to build an equal launching pad for all, a platform that maximizes potential and encourages the growth of a creative community online," told us Jamilyn Segal, Founder and CEO of ScriptDoor.
"ScriptDoor.com is now bustling with global content creators, buying and selling on our vibrant media platform. ScriptDoor is making its name in lights as a one-stop media and entertainment platform built to create a sustainable online ecosystem and community that gives individuals and businesses the freedom to create, collaborate and directly publish material to both a private and global audience.
ScriptDoor allows everyone to have a chance to make money. Content providers can distribute to both individuals and business consumers with further onward redistribution to their direct clients to encourage sustainability," Segal emphasized.
"With the continuous support of Microsoft for Startups, offering aid and being there to assist, ScriptDoor has overcome various challenges and hurdles to allow its Beta launch to take place last month. Microsoft's warm, down to earth attitude and approachable nature can only be described as a 'tech giant with a human touch.'
"The partnership with Microsoft has also helped ScriptDoor launch its inaugural event, EMSE AWARDS. The competition aims to challenge and encourage young creative people worldwide to balance both business and artistic impulses so they thrive in the current economy," she added.
WeSoar – Enterprise productivity app
"The 'We' in WeSoar is about winning together. With considerable experience as functional experts, we believe that no single platform can fully solve complex people problems. Our focus is on creating alignment in organizations and helping teams collaborate to execute plans to achieve their objectives. We need partners upstream and downstream for people to reach peak performance. We will go to our clients as an eco-system of solution providers rather than claim to have a magic wand that solves all problems," the Founder and CEO of WeSoar, Nisheeth Pathak, told us.
"When considering who to ally with, apart from a large number of consulting firms, we felt anchoring with a big tech company will be important to succeed. For us it was not just about muscle and reach; it was more about alignment of ethics and values. We found the perfect match in Microsoft. As a non-technical founder, getting the technical validation of the product along with information security takes a huge load off. Co-selling brings great opportunities too. The biggest game changer will be Teams as a hub for productivity apps; allowing companies to think beyond legacy HCM [human capital management] systems that claim to do all, but rarely succeed.
It is evident we have a #DreamTeam at hand with Microsoft!" highlighted Pathak.