The Most Successful Start-Ups in the Middle East for 2019

By: Fatima Saleh

2019 was a great year for start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) as it continued to see a rise in investments. In 2018, there were over 130 deals that raised around $475 million. In 2019, the top 10 deals itself surpassed this with more than $500 million raised.

UAE continues to be the most invested market in this region with 6 of the top 10 deals originating there and taking the top 3 places. 2019 also saw top investments from Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Kuwait and Jordan.

Let’s take a look at each of the top 10 funding deals in 2019.

1. Careem, UAE, $200 million

Founded in 2012, the Dubai-based ride-hailing company Careem has been on the list for three consecutive years.

In 2019, it raised $200 million as part of an ongoing series F round. Investors in this round include Saudi Arabia’s billionaire Prince Alwaleed bin Talal’s Kingdom Holding, Al Tayyar Travel Group, STV, and Japanese ecommerce group Rakuten.

Careem’s valuation post this investment round is estimated to be over $2 billion, making it one of the most valued tech start0ups in the region.

With the new injected capital, Careem is looking to expand further and strengthen its position in the MENA region via mass transportation, delivery, and payments. Moving its efforts from purely ride-hailing, it now refers to itself as an internet platform for the greater Middle East.

Careem recently launched its bus service to diversify its business and give Uber strong competition.This year, Careem is on the lookout for new investors with the goal of expanding the current series round to $500 million.

2. Property Finder, UAE, $120 million

Founded in 2007, Property Finder is a UAE-based real estate classifieds website which has operations across eight MENA countries. It raised $120 million in 2019 and is valued at about $500 million. This latest round of funding was led by US growth equity firm General Atlantic (GA).