The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region has emerged as a vibrant and thriving destination for technology startups. Countries like Egypt, Morocco, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are increasingly capturing global attention and benefiting from a surge in entrepreneurial activities.
“From our experience working closely with technology startups, it’s evident that the MENA region has become a hotbed of business opportunity,” explains Nick Broughton, a Partner at GoGlobal. “What sets the region apart is the remarkable synergy between its vibrant startup ecosystem and extraordinary pool of talent. This winning combination positions MENA as a top destination for innovators and investors from around the world.”
Here are the top eight reasons why MENA countries are luring in multinational companies (MNCs) to set up shop, invest and be part of this region’s next exciting chapter
Supportive government initiatives
Governments in MENA have shown immense support for technology startups by implementing policies and initiatives that create a favorable business environment. These initiatives include streamlined regulations, tax incentives and the establishment of innovation hubs and technology zones. Egypt’s Technology Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center (TIEC) and Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 are prime examples of government-led efforts to promote entrepreneurship and attract tech startups.
Free trade zones
The Middle East region holds a reputation for its wealth of two natural reserves: oil and natural gas. However, many countries in the region have started venturing into different initiatives to reduce dependency on oil and gas. In the UAE, for example, several free zones have been established to attract foreign investment and encourage entrepreneurship. The Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC) specializes in commodities trading while the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM) offers a range of incentives, including 100% foreign ownership, zero taxes and streamlined regulatory procedures.
A hub for business
The region is a natural business hub, ideally positioned near Europe and Asia and serving as a gateway to Africa. Thanks to world-class infrastructure, lower taxes and the availability of a highly qualified workforce, the region is among the best places in the world to do business. According to the World Bank’s Doing Business Report, several MENA countries have made significant strides in nurturing startups and attracting MNCs.
Prime access to venture capital and funding
The availability of venture capital and funding opportunities has significantly contributed to the growth of technology startups in MENA. The region has witnessed a surge in investment activities, with local and international venture capital firms showing a keen interest in supporting innovative ventures. Countries like the UAE, with its robust financial ecosystem and government-backed investment funds, provide startups with access to the necessary capital to fuel growth and scale their businesses.
Flourishing startup ecosystem
MENA boasts a thriving startup ecosystem characterized by incubators, accelerators, co-working spaces and flagship events. These ecosystem components provide startups with the necessary support, mentorship and networking opportunities crucial for their success. Egypt’s RiseUp Summit, Morocco’s Casablanca Finance City and the UAE’s Dubai Startup Hub are just a few examples of platforms fostering collaboration, knowledge sharing and entrepreneurship. This movement is impacting the region’s population in many ways. For example, the UAE saw female entrepreneurship skyrocket 68% in 2022.
Market potential and digital adoption
MENA presents a vast market potential for technology startups due to its young, digitally connected population. With a high smartphone penetration rate and increasing internet usage, the region has seen rapid adoption of digital technologies and solutions. This momentum is expected to continue for years to come. For example, a report from the Dubai Chamber Of Digital Economy and Entrepreneur Middle East expects the contribution of the digital economy to the UAE’s GDP to double from 9.7% to over 20% by 2031.
Abundant tech talent pool
MENA countries offer a rich pool of tech talent, which is essential for the success and growth of technology startups. Egypt, for instance, has a robust IT industry and a skilled workforce of software developers and engineers. Morocco has established itself as a technology outsourcing hub, providing access to talented professionals in various domains. The UAE, with its focus on advanced technologies and artificial intelligence, attracts both local and international tech talent.
A magnet for top global talent
Recognizing the importance of overseas talent in driving innovation and economic growth, countries in the MENA region are implementing special visa programs to attract top talent. For example, the UAE recently announced it will issue 100,000 ‘golden visas’ to programmers. Initiatives like this streamline the entry and residency processes for skilled professionals, entrepreneurs and investors – making it easier for them to contribute to the local startup ecosystem.
Employer of Record (EOR) hiring is key for navigating MENA
Each country in the MENA region presents a unique set of challenges and complexities in terms of local labor laws, compliance requirements and cultural nuances. By partnering with an expert EOR service provider, like GoGlobal, companies gain a strategic advantage in navigating these intricacies and streamlining the team-building process.
EOR hiring allows companies to swiftly establish a local presence, hire talent compliantly and manage payroll and benefits in accordance with local regulations. It provides a comprehensive solution that not only ensures legal compliance but also frees companies from administrative burdens, allowing them to focus on their core business objectives. With the support of an EOR, companies can confidently build a team in the MENA region – leveraging local expertise and resources while mitigating risks and ensuring a smooth, efficient global expansion process.
The journey begins with recruitment
Accessing the best talent in the MENA region is a key challenge that companies often face. While the region boasts a wealth of top talent, it is not always easy to identify and recruit the right individuals. However, with GoGlobal’s innovative Recruit & Hire solution, MNCs can overcome this hurdle and unlock the full potential of the MENA region’s vibrant startup ecosystems and exceptional talent pool.
By combining expert recruitment services with Employer of Record (EOR) services, Recruit & Hire empowers MNCs to efficiently scale their business expansion efforts. With an end-to-end range of HR services – from recruitment to interviewing, onboarding, processing payroll, administering benefits and offboarding – MNCs can focus on their core business objectives and leave the complexities of local recruitment and compliance to the experts.
This strategic partnership allows MNCs to confidently tap into the dynamic growth and development happening in the MENA region – putting themselves at the forefront of exciting opportunities.
GoGlobal is your partner for recruiting top talent for critical roles in the MENA region. Contact us to learn more about how our one-of-a-kind Recruit & Hire solution can help you dive into new talent pools.