The UAE and Bahrain have ranked among the 100 top destinations for startups around the world, according to a new study by StartupBlink.
The research firm’s annual Startup Ecosystem Rankings Report calculates a score for each country based on tens of thousands of data points gathered from more than 50,000 members working as venture capitalists, founders and employees of small firms.
In this year’s rankings, the UAE came in at 43rd, while Bahrain jumped 20 places to 75th, ranked first and second respectively in the GCC. Riyadh also jumped 213 points to rank 281 globally. The report praised Bahrain’s “collaborative startup community” and “framework of legal and support systems for startups and entrepreneurs”. Initiatives including StartUp Bahrain, Tamkeen and Bahrain FinTech Bay were also highlighted – as well as favourable tax conditions and recent record investment highs.
The research also mentioned several Bahrain-based startups such as Rain, the first licensed cryptocurrency platform, and Skiplino – a cloud-based queue management system that allows companies to intelligently manage social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The UAE, meanwhile, was recognised for the potential of its Arab-speaking market and close involvement of the government in the local startup ecosystem.
Commenting on the release of the report, Eli David, CEO of StartupBlink, said: “Good startup ecosystems are fundamental. They create jobs, boost the economy, increase tax revenue, improve quality of life and urban innovation, and attract and retain talent. As an entrepreneur, location will greatly influence the chances your startup will succeed.
“Knowing how well your ecosystem performs is also important. Corporations use these rankings to make decisions about future expansion, universities and consulting agencies use them for research, and governments and local development organization use them to gauge how well their programs are paying off.
“The efforts of governments, municipalities, and development organizations make a real difference. Knowing this information and measuring it mathematically without sugarcoating results helps track real progress and creates an urgency to encourage improvement.”
Pakiza Abdulrahman, Manager, Startups at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said: “Picking a startup location is one of the most important choices a founder can make, affecting everything from taxation levels to market access and the cost of doing business.
“Startups coming to Bahrain join a thriving ecosystem that combines pro-enterprise regulation with competitive costs, backed by the support of a government that listens – not to mention our unrivaled access to the $1.5 trillion GCC market.
“We are delighted that the Bahrain approach – and that of the wider Arab region – continues to gain recognition and we look forward to enhancing our support for the startups of tomorrow and today.”
Bahrain offers startups an ideal testbed location for new ideas, combining pro-enterprise government policies with an ever-evolving ecosystem and a wide pool of international talent.
Startups in the Kingdom raised more than USD63 million in funding during 2016-2019, driven by a surge of investments in the MENA region in recent years –564 venture deals worth USD 704 million were made in 2019 compared to 294 deals in 2015, for example.