The Global Startup Ecosystem Report 2022

MENA Insights, Rankings & Ecosystem Pages

MENA’s geographic location provides access to large markets in Europe, Africa, and Asia, and it is home to a large, young population. In a context of geopolitical instability and high unemployment, many of these young people are increasingly seeking new opportunities and looking to improve the world via entrepreneurship. SMEs make up 94% of registered companies in the region and are vital to MENA’s economy. However, only 3% of these have access to global funding. Since the first GSER in 2012, MENA has experienced rapid transformation – it has doubled its global share of early-stage funding to 4%, a value of $3.8 billion. In 2021, MENA experienced a 640% increase in the number of $50 million+ exits compared to 2012.

The region saw a record year of investment activity in 2021. $13 billion was raised in total VC rounds over 890 deals, and MENA experienced a 23% increase in the number of Series B+ deals from 2020.

Israel has made a name for itself as a “Startup Nation,” with a particular focus on tech, and Tel Aviv is a consistent leader in the GSER rankings. The ecosystem saw three $1 billion+ exits in the period analyzed, and its Ecosystem Value crossed $100 billion, helping it to secure its spot at #7. Israel accounts for 84% of the region’s share in total VC funding in 2021, followed by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) at 8% share. Despite its small population of approximately 8.6 million people, Israel is paving the way in tech innovation, both in MENA and globally.

MENA’s other leading startup ecosystems include the UAE, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia. Cairo has seen 156% increase in total VC funding round dollar amount from 2020 to 2021, and from 2017 to 2021, the overall number of VC funding rounds in the ecosystem increased by 60%. AI&BD is the most successful sub-sector in the region, with 38% total capital invested. Fintech startups are also thriving here — Saudi Arabian Fintech Tamara saw the region’s biggest 2021 deal in a ​​$110 million Series A, and Egyptian digital payment startup Paymob raised $18.5 million at Series A.

Key Findings

  • MENA saw a 60% increase in early-stage funding from 2020 to 2021.
  • The region experienced 89% growth in $50 million+ exits from 2020.
  • Tel Aviv remains MENA’s leading startup ecosystem, ranking at #7. Its Ecosystem Value crossed $100 billion this year, and the Israeli city scored well in Knowledge, with the count of patents increasing by 169 % since last year.
  • In 2021, UAE experienced 144% growth in the dollar amount of Series B+ rounds compared to 2020.
  • Saudi Arabia produced its first Fintech unicorn in late 2020, when STC Pay was valued at $1.3 billion.