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Success stories of technology startups based in the UAE

Thousands of entrepreneurs flock to the UAE every year to turn their big ideas into transformative tech startups. So, what separates success from failure? In this article, we will dive deeper into several success stories, focussing on how each company was founded, the challenges they faced and key factors that led to success.

A brief overview of technology startups in the UAE

In the past few years, the UAE has emerged as a thriving ecosystem for tech startups thanks to its strategic location, supportive government regulations, availability of top-tier talent and investment opportunities. Today, there are more than 5,500 tech startups registered in the region, and by 2032 the UAE aims to nurture 20 unicorns.

The importance of studying success stories and case studies

Every entrepreneurial journey is different, but many will face the same challenges and setbacks. By understanding companies that have been through the process and made it out to the other end, you can better understand how to increase your chances of success. So, let’s dive in.


Overview of the company

Careem started life as a simple ride-sharing app in 2012. A decade later, the so-called ‘Super App’ was acquired by Uber for $3 billion and has since expanded across the region to offer customers ride-hailing, micro-mobility, food and grocery delivery and home cleaning.

How the company was founded

Co-founders Mudassir Sheikha and Magnus Olsson founded Careem out of a desire to create something “big and meaningful”, but they didn’t know where to start. So, they made a list of all the problems they had faced while living in the Middle East and turned these into an opportunity. Eventually, they settled on ground transportation.

Challenges faced by Careem

Like any company, Careem has faced challenges and setbacks along the way, but the pandemic proved to be their biggest obstacle, when rideshare support tickets plummeted. The company decided to use this as an opportunity to experiment and pivot for a new era. It ended up bolstering self-service support operations and launched a one-stop resource for its services.

Key factors that led to the company’s success

One of the most important factors differentiating Careem from its competitors from the outset was its home-grown advantage. It was conceived in the UAE and backed by local companies such as STC, Al Tayyar, Kuwait Investment Authority and Abraaj, who helped add value through strategic partnerships and local intel.

Overview of the company is the largest e-commerce provider in the Middle East, operating in seven countries with more than 135 million customers. Its largest verticals are electronics, health, beauty, home and baby.

How the company was founded

Ronaldo Moucawar founded in 2005 as a consumer-to-consumer auction site, like eBay. The website took off quickly, and by the end of 2009, the brand was recording transactions worth more than AED 3 million. In 2010, the company switched to a B2C-only business model, which accelerated the company’s growth.

Challenges faced by

For, one of the biggest challenges came when the company decided to switch to a business-to-consumer platform model in 2010. The company lost most of its transaction volume overnight, though it made up for it over the next six months. This brought major software-design challenges, such as enabling alternative payment methods to avoid losing international customers.

Key factors that led to the company’s success decided to view challenges as distinct entrepreneurial ventures instead of in-house development projects. For example, when it came to solving payment method issues, the company tapped into the ambitious, fast-growing community of tech-savvy entrepreneurs in the Middle East.


Overview of the company

Bayzat is an HRMS and Payroll software and insurance provider in Dubai. It offers automated HR payroll, along with various insurance options for businesses and families.

How the company was founded

Talal Bayaa, CEO and Co-founder, realised that most SMEs were still using manual processes to manage their HR functions. He decided to solve the problem and discovered connected pain points that the company could help customers with along the way.

Challenges faced by Bayzat

For Talal Bayaa, the biggest challenge in scaling a company is the founder’s role founder. Capital and talent are essential, but according to the co-founder, you need to keep growing and evolving as a leader. Taking the time to invest in this and learning from your mistakes is essential.

Key factors that led to the company’s success

For Bayzat, success would not have been possible without the right talent. The company also maintains that raising capital is essential and advises entrepreneurs to take advantage of accelerators and incubation schemes like Hub71 and Dubai Fintech Hub.


Overview of the company

Namshi is one of the Middle East’s most popular fashion websites, serving customers in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

How the company was founded

Namshi was created in 2011 to offer a brand-new shopping experience in the UAE that merges accessible fashion with digital innovation. Targeting style-obsessed 20-somethings, the website showcases over 500 new products daily.

Challenges faced by Namshi

For Namshi, one of the biggest challenges the brand has faced is the ‘mall’ culture in the Middle East. People are reluctant to buy online, don’t trust the veracity of products, and don’t want to enter their credit card details online. To overcome this, Namshi accepts cash on delivery for some orders and is raising awareness of the brand using digital technology and social media.

Key factors that led to the company’s success

Research, branding, promotion and a robust marketing strategy have been central to Namshi’s success. The brand targeted a specific consumer base from the outset – women for whom shopping in malls is difficult – and started small. From here, the business was able to build a loyal client base.

The Luxury Closet

Overview of the company

Luxury Closet is an online boutique store that sells and buys new and pre-loved luxury items across the Middle East.

How the company was founded

Junal Kapoor set up The Luxury Closet in 2012 after a chance conversation with a friend who remarked that there was nowhere to buy designer handbags at a discount.

Challenges faced by The Luxury Closet

The Middle East and Dubai have the highest per capita spending on luxury in the world, but it is also a crowded market. The Luxury Closet realised early on that it would need to invest in digital tools to push buyers further along the journey funnel and increase the number of transactions.

Key factors that led to the company’s success

The Luxury Closet has expanded rapidly and delivered robust growth for several reasons, but the key to its success has been a robust fundraising strategy. The brand has raised more than $32m from regional investors such as HB Investments, GMP investments and Nazer Group since 2012.


Challenges are part and parcel of building an innovative business, but as these five companies demonstrate, the ability to turn setbacks into opportunities is critical for success. Entrepreneurs must also partner with companies and investors they can trust, find the right talent and leverage investment opportunities. Building a business in the UAE – where talent, incubators and accelerators, and investment opportunities abound – will give you a head start.