Bahrain Announces Special Programme for 100 Arab Start-Ups

Dead Sea, Jordan, 7 April 2019 – Bahrain today announced the roll-out of a new programme of support for the 100 Arab start-ups shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution, at the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa.

The special programme will include:

  • Access to the Bahraini market for all companies that have been recognized under the 100 Arab Start-Ups banner – going back to those selected in 2017
  • Fast-tracking of applications to establish a presence in Bahrain
  • The creation of a special 100 Arab Start-Ups concierge service to help start-ups navigate and benefit from the local Bahrain ecosystem
  • Opportunity to pitch and access funding from Bahrain’s Sovereign Wealth Fund, as well as the VC partners of Al Waha Fund of Funds and family offices in the Kingdom

The structured programme will allow start-ups to rapidly scale up their businesses and access a broader spectrum of support in Bahrain.

“The 100 Arab start-ups shaping the Fourth Industrial Revolution is a great initiative and we need to collectively ensure it not just an annual celebration but a constant source of support to our most promising companies – so they can go on to become world-beaters,” said Khalid Al Rumaihi, Chief Executive of the Bahrain Economic Development Board. “These companies will define our futures and we want to open up the opportunities Bahrain offers with a special set of incentives that offers the most comprehensive support possible. With this programme, in partnership with the World Economic Forum, we really are offering the very best to the very best.”

With a 31% increase in investments compared to 2017, a new record was reached for regional start-up funding last year, according to data from MagniTT, a company twice selected by the 100 Arab Start-Ups initiative. Foreign investment remained stable in 2018 with 30% from outside the Arab world, while fintech took over e-commerce as the top industry as a result of an 8% increase in deals since 2017.

Selection committee

A selection committee of experts on the start-up ecosystem in the region worked with the World Economic Forum and the EDB to screen and select the 100 start-ups.

  • Abdulrahman Tarabzouni, Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Saudi Technology Ventures (STV)
  • Ahmed El Alfi, Founder and Chairman, Sawari Ventures
  • Amir Farha, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Beco Capital
  • Areije Al Shakar, Director and Fund Manager, Al Waha Venture Capital Fund; Senior Vice-President, Bahrain Development Bank
  • Hala Fadel, Founder and Managing Partner, Leap Ventures
  • Khaled Talhouni, Managing Partner, Wamda Capital
  • Mirek Dusek, Deputy Head of the Centre for Geopolitical and Regional Affairs, Member of the Executive Committee, World Economic Forum
About the meeting

With the full support and presence of Their Majesties King Abdullah II and Queen Rania Al Abdullah, the meeting convened more than 1,000 key leaders from government, business and civil society, as well as leaders from Gulf Cooperation Council countries, the Levant and North Africa, and key international stakeholders from East Africa, Europe and the United States. Building on the Forum’s Annual Meeting in January and its theme of Globalization 4.0, the World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa took place under the theme, Building Platforms of Cooperation.

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(Originally published on the official World Economic Forum website)

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