Fast Company: “Most Innovative Companies 2019” in the Middle East

Most renowned publications worldwide, especially those from the US and Europe would always do a round-up of startups in many regions worldwide. Gaining recognition from the likes of TechCrunch and Engadget is a seal of honour for any startup, especially in the Middle East.

I’m an avid reader of Fast Company, and it just so happened that they do their annual ranking of the businesses making the most profound impact on both industry and culture for 2019. Aside from the global companies, Fast Company also did one for the Middle East region and some home-grown names have made the list.

Top 10 companies in the Fast Company rankings for 2019
Top 10 companies in the Fast Company rankings for 2019

Anghami: digital music community

Anghami still reigns supreme in the Middle East, even with Deezer entering the region in October followed by Spotify weeks later. Even with their large collection of Arabic music combined with their first mover advantage, Anghami still leads the pack with more than 70 million users in the Middle East and North Africa region.

Helping to combat piracy in the region, Anghami brings more than 30 Million songs to listeners with fremium-model that also includes a family plan. Not resting on their laurels, they’ve been constantly improving their app that brings a concert-like experience to their listeners across the region.

Careem: ride-sharing as a local enterprise

Uber is the globally synonymous name for ride-hailing and they’re already present in the Middle East region. Given that they haven’t expanded that much due to many other regulatory challenges, their local competitor Careem has been making inroads across the region.

Based in the UAE, Careem already covers more than 100 cities stretching from North Africa to Pakistan. Knowing that credit cards still have a long way to go in most places where cash is still dominant, they beat Uber to the game by offering cash payments across their network.

They’ve remained focused as a local enterprise with regional ambitions, adding extra security features for females and even having female Careem ‘captains’ in some of their markets where cultural dynamics have necessitated it.

Jamalon: access to Arabic books

It’s an ongoing challenge of finding Arabic books in the region and across the world. Most of the times, you’d have to wait for local book fairs where you could buy them directly from publishers in attendance.

Jamalon sells more than 9.5 million books in Arabic and English from their online portal, with home delivery covering the entire Middle East region. Addressing the challenges for Arabic writers finding publishers, Jamalon offers a print-on-demand service for those who can’t find or afford a publisher.

Fetchr: Tracking and delivery using GPS

It’s a hassle when it comes to package deliveries in the Middle East, due to the absence of a formal addressing system. Using the power of built-in GPS inside smartphones, Fetchr has capitalized on the addressing challenges to revolutionize package deliveries across the Middle East.

In absence of a formal street address system, Fetchr use the built-in GPS inside your phone for location-based pickup and delivery in the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Jordan, and Egypt. All of this happens with a few taps on your smartphone and this works both for individuals and businesses.

P.S: to celebrate the occassion, Careem and Anghami could do a special playlist given the existing partnership they already have across the region.

Author: Yasser Masood

Think of me as a grassroots community evangelist. Juggling social media while covering technology/digital trends across the Middle East and crossroads of society and culture, while unearthing other perspectives that pique my interests.

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