What are the UAE's top 10 start-ups to work for in 2022?

FinTechs dominate the annual list as consumers embrace financial solutions, LinkedIn study finds

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UAE car-sharing platform ekar has been ranked as the best start-up to work for in the Emirates this year by professional network LinkedIn.

Dubai-based buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) company Postpay, Abu Dhabi agriculture technology start-up Pure Harvest Smart Farms, sustainable active wear brand The Giving Movement and e-commerce and supply chain company Right Farm complete the top five in the LinkedIn Top Start-ups List 2022.

Other sought-after start-up employers in the UAE include BNPL company Tabby, low-cost robo-advisory Sarwa, investment platform baraka, e-commerce aggregator Opontia and property technology start-up Huspy, LinkedIn said.

While global hiring was trending downwards in many markets, the UAE recorded an 8.2 per cent increase in hiring this year, LinkedIn said. Companies on the UAE list are “hiring and actively looking for talent”, it added.

“This year’s list has witnessed the emergence of many start-ups from financial backgrounds with over half the list consisting of FinTechs, signalling the increase in popularity and adoption of innovative FinTech solutions by UAE entrepreneurs and consumers,” Salma Altantawy, senior news editor at LinkedIn, said.

The global Top Start-ups List is an annual ranking of emerging start-ups to work for and is based on LinkedIn data, the company said on Wednesday.

The four criteria LinkedIn used to identify the best start-ups in the UAE were employment growth, engagement with employees, job interest and talent attraction. The start-ups were analysed from July last year until the end of June this year.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are the backbone of the UAE economy. More than 400,000 SMEs operate in the country.

They represent more than 60 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil economy and provide employment opportunities for 86 per cent of the workforce in the private sector, the Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development reports.

This year’s list has witnessed the emergence of many start-ups from financial backgrounds, with over half the list consisting of FinTechs
Salma Altantawy, senior news editor at LinkedIn

Start-ups in the UAE raised $699 million in the first half of 2022, ranking the country as the leading destination for venture capital financing in the Middle East and North Africa region, data platform Magnitt reported.

The Emirates was also the leader in terms of deals, which grew by 10 per cent in the first half of 2022 compared with a year ago. Regional investors have been attracted to digital services offered by FinTech, e-commerce and transport and logistics start-ups, Magnitt data showed.

“Albeit a more nascent sector regionally, the start-ups and venture capital space is facing unprecedented growth despite the economic downturn that is sweeping the globe,” Ms Altantawy said.

“The start-ups on this list are those that are successful in navigating the evolution of consumer and business needs, leading the way through the new world of work.”

To be eligible for the UAE Top Start-ups list, a company has to be privately held, have 50 or more country-based employees, be seven years old or younger, and be headquartered in the Emirates, LinkedIn said.

Start-ups that laid off 10 per cent or more of their workforce within the methodology time frame were ineligible.

LinkedIn found that most successful start-ups in the UAE are those that prioritise sustainable solutions.

For instance, start-ups such as Pure Harvest Smart Farms and Right Farm ventured into AgriTech to reimagine food supply.

Such innovative solutions are essential for food security, especially in this region, which faces higher risks of droughts and food shortages due to climate change, LinkedIn said.

Other start-ups, such as The Giving Movement, are doing their part by producing streetwear using sustainable materials and donating a percentage of their proceeds to different causes, LinkedIn said.

“BNPL platforms like Postpay and Tabby are a testament to the growth of the FinTech sector, unlike other regions where such start-ups are on the decline,” the network said.

“With financial independence becoming crucial in today’s uncertain climate, a lot of retail investors are turning to FinTech companies like Sarwa, baraka and Huspy to invest their money in stocks, houses and digital currencies.”

Postpay secured an equity investment of $10m in June last year that will help it to serve retail groups and brands across the GCC and the rest of the Mena region.

Abu Dhabi-based Pure Harvest Smart Farms raised $181m in its latest funding round in June as it looks to expand further into the GCC and Asia. The latest financing brought the AgTech company’s total funding to $387.1m and made it among the most-funded start-ups in the region.

Meanwhile, the best start-ups to work for in Saudi Arabia are BNPL company Tamara, digital marketplace Sary, online grocery delivery business Nana, e-commerce enablement platform Zid and payment app Tweeq, LinkedIn says.


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Best start-ups to work for in the UAE:

  1. ekar
  2. Postpay
  3. Pure Harvest Smart Farms
  4. The Giving Movement
  5. Right Farm
  6. Tabby
  7. Sarwa
  8. Baraka
  9. Opontia
  10. Huspy
Updated: September 28, 2022, 12:00 PM