Arab Entrepreneurs Behrouz Mehri/Getty Images

Fostering Arab Entrepreneurship

Innovative startups can be a boon to the Middle East and North Africa, bringing jobs and private-sector development to struggling economies. But regulatory environments that favor big firms and the state sector are stifling startup ecosystems, curbing the potential of the region’s most promising growth engine.

WASHINGTON, DC – Across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), technology hubs are emerging. Whether it’s in the Beirut Digital District or the GrEEK campus in Cairo, some of the Middle East’s brightest minds are turning innovative ideas into marketable products.

When I visited the Beirut Digital District two months ago, and the GrEEK Campus startup hub before that, optimism was palpable – and for good reason. In a region that has struggled to find its economic footing since the Arab Spring, the entrepreneurial ideas being refined at incubators like these hold the keys to the region’s future.

Startups anywhere contribute to job creation, competitiveness, higher productivity, and economic growth, while helping to reduce poverty and fight climate change. And when energetic new companies bring innovative products and services to untapped markets, they contribute positively to private-sector development.

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