Lebanon startups are amazing when you know the country is a tiny piece of land lost in a quite noisy neighborhood, with Israel and Syria, to name a few, regularly hitting the headlines for war-related topics. Lebanon has an older history of being a pivot between the West and the East of the world, and its 12m diaspora (for 4m people home!) is a testimony of this history. How Lebanon can expect raise a credible startup scene in a context of turmoil? Why is there an obvious niche for startups at the junction of the Arabic and Western world over there?

We’ve been to Arabnet, the top digital conference in the Middle-East, and have met startupers and entrepreneurs from all over the region.

In this report, you will find:

  • A short history of Lebanon and why it’s ripe for innovation today
  • An analysis of its incentives for the startup world, including the Central Bank circular injecting $400m in startups
  • A list of startups from the Middle-East, and they’re rather big

 

PROS

  • Diverse and tolerant population, prone to innovation
  • Lots of money for the knowledge economy thanks to the Proposal 331 from the Central Bank ($400m)
  • Access to a huge diaspora to conquer other markets and a tradition for trade and negotiation
  • Home of the main tech regional event, Arabnet, with satellites in Dubai, Ryadh

CONS

  • Small market with big competition around (Israel tech hubs, Jordan more stable and forward going)
  • Infrastructure can be noth expensive and not reliable, with $180 for 20GB on the web
  • Expansive country in the Middle-East comparatively to neighbours such as Jordan
  • English is understood by businessmen and elites, but Arabic still needed with most of the local population
  • Unstable country with frequent bombings, surrounded by countries which regularly ¬†threaten its independence (Israel, Syria)

TOP STARTUPS IN LEBANON

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INSTABEAT

Instabeat is a smart swimming goggles that scan motion and heart rate

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ANGHAMI

Anghami is a music streaming app providing unlimited Arabic and International music to stream and download for offline mode

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SHAHIYA

Shahiya is a cooking platform online with 5K+ recipes and 1.3M unique visitors each month

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LAMSA WORLD

Lamsa World involves a range of modern and traditional stories with interactive elements that provides edutainment for children

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SHAWARMANJI

Shawarmanji a food chain restaurants designed to be the Home of the Original Shawarma!

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CEDAR BOOKS

Cedar Books has sourced books for the Arabic World and beyond for Amazon and other retailers

TOP PEOPLE TO KNOW IN LEBANON

omar

Omar Christidis

Founder and CEO

Arabnet

Founder & CEO of ArabNet, the leading events and media company for the Arab digital industry

Linkedin

fawzi

Fawzi Rahal

Founder and Managing Partner

Gamuttco Digital Consultancy

Founder, Managing Partner at Gamuttco Digital Consultancy, creative strategist, ex-head of digital at Grey MENA

Linkedin

hind

Hind Hobeika

Founder

Instabeat

Former professional swimmer, CEO and founder of Instabeat, the award-winning connected swim goggles

Linkedin

raafat

Raafat Mounla

Senior Head of Marketing Department

Alfa Managed by Orascom Telecom

Key contributor for establishing Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (Alfa/MIC1) as the first operator of Mobile 4G in Lebanon

Linkedin

maroun

Maroun N. Chammas

Chairman and CEO

Berytech

Serial entrepreneur with activities ranging from Oil and gas to telecom

Linkedin

joanne

Joanne Kubba

Policy Manager

Uber

Policy Manager for Uber covering Middle East and Africa currently, former Head of Strategy, Partnerships and Outreach at Eureeca

Linkedin

LEBANON

GDP (in billions USD): 45
GDP per capita (in USD): 10,077
Population: 4,965,914
Population in 2050 (est.): 5,330,000
Internet Penetration: 80.7 %
Mobile Penetration: 63 %
Banking Penetration: 40 %
Credit Card Penetration: 10 %