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Tue 15 Sep 2020 01:46 PM

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Tech companies drive start-up surge into Saudi Arabia

AstroLabs has helped over 60 companies enter the Saudi market, with a combined value of over $5bn

Tech companies drive start-up surge into Saudi Arabia

Muhammed Mekki, the co-founder of AstroLabs. Image: ITP Media Group

Tech companies are driving the influx of start-ups into Saudi Arabia, according to Muhammed Mekki, the co-founder of AstroLabs, which has been developing the digital ecosystem in the Middle East for the last seven years.

To date, AstroLabs has helped over 60 companies enter the Saudi market, with a combined value of over $5 billion.

Mekki told Arabian Business that 55 percent of those companies have been tech or tech-driven entities. “That’s reflected by a variety of underlying industries, whether it’s fintech, real estate, different types of companies but the tech-driven ones are the most prevalent,” he said.

This is followed by media and communications “Over 20 percent of the companies that we’ve set up have been in that space, from some of the largest brands in the world, to local outfits that are interested in their next office out of the UAE,” explained Mekki.

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And the UAE, he said, is the preferred market of choice, where companies entering the kingdom are choosing to branch out from, with over 50 percent coming from the emirates.

He said: “The majority of the companies that we’ve set-up in Saudi have come from the UAE. I think it’s this logic that, whether it’s an international company that has offices in Europe or anywhere else around the world, they took the first step to set-up an office in Dubai, but it’s always been on their mind to say, ok, I need to access the Saudi market and so once they’re aware that it’s a possibility and that it’s much easier to do now, they’re eager to set up their presence.”

Mekki added that companies from India and Asia also figure highly among those they have helped enter the Saudi market.

He said: “Companies have realised they need to be in Saudi and establish a foothold and market presence.

“It can be quite challenging if you’ve never navigated it before. But now, after 60 repetitions, you know what to look out for and how to address the invariable challenges that come up.”

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