The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region is expected to be among the world’s strongest economies in the next 10 years, according to the founder of a Qatar-based startup.
Nada Farouk, CEO of Turismo, made the statement during a panel discussion hosted recently by Startup Grind Doha under the theme ‘Female Startup Founders in Qatar – Setting the Benchmark’.
The panel, which was moderated by Steve Mackie, comprised of female entrepreneurs Rasha bint Khamis al-Sulaiti of Rawi Al Kotob, Shada Bennbaia of Pulsate, and Elizabeth Wood of Inspire ME.
During the discussion, Farouk also forecasted that the Mena region will produce and attract “the most attractive talents” in technology and business, adding that “the most influential leaders will come from here.”
According to Farouk, the region has already made significant strides in the technology sector, adding that several startups from the area had already achieved global recognition.
Similarly, Bennbaia noted that the region has the talent, expertise, and resources to start building technologies that could be exported to other parts of the world. She emphasised that instead of waiting for solutions to reach the Mena region from other countries, it has the potential to lead in technology innovation.
However, the members of the panel agreed during the discussion that while the startup ecosystem is continuously growing and developing, it also has different sets of challenges that entrepreneurs and major players need to overcome.
In Qatar, specifically, the panellists underscored that access to funding and talent acquisition, as well as attracting different types of venture capital, are among the pressing issues that need to be constantly addressed by stakeholders and policymakers in the country.
To address these challenges, the panellists also agreed on the importance of fostering collaboration among entrepreneurs, raising awareness within the ecosystem, and actively seeking solutions to create an environment conducive to entrepreneurship and innovation.
But Bennbaia said she remains optimistic that the market in Qatar serves as an ideal jump-off point for different startups and other entrepreneurial ventures, citing the country’s diverse population and strong government support programmes and initiatives.
To further drive the region’s potential to become a technology hub, Bennbaia emphasised that the people’s mindset will play a crucial factor. She noted that there is a growing eagerness in the region to innovate and create solutions that could have a positive impact globally.
“I think this is the best time to start a venture, especially here in Qatar. For new businesses, use Qatar as a launch pad. While the market here is not that huge, entrepreneurs can get the needed support in terms of buying their products or building their technology,” she explained.
Farouk also stressed the need to take action and proactively acknowledge the challenges by working together with fellow startup owners to help shape and enhance the country’s entrepreneurial landscape.
“We can start by actually pushing things forward,” she pointed out.
On the sidelines of the panel discussion, Startup Grind Doha chapter director Indica Amarasinghe told Gulf Times that Startup Grind is the world’s largest community of startups, founders, innovators, and creators.
“The objective of Startup Grind Doha is to bring the ecosystem together and we will continue to do this by having monthly gatherings where startups can come together, learn from each other, and be inspired. We are currently planning the other sessions for the next few months, which would revolve around topics, such as AI, fintech, sportstech, and cybertech,” he explained.
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