Top 6 Thriving AI Startups in the Middle East

Nowadays, AI-powered and machine learning startups are booming in the whole region, particularly in the UAE. Every month new ones are founded and added to the list with some innovative ambitions meant to enhance the way we live, work, and entertain ourselves. To get a bit more familiar with the AI startup ecosystem in the Middle East, we have presented 6 of the most flourishing ones that have managed to raise considerable amounts of funds and acquire a good number of customers in the past couple of years. Let’s get started with the one that’s modernizing the business world in Israel.

1. Algoretail


“Efficiency in every aspect of your business” is the aspiring slogan that the Israeli startup has taken to revolutionize the expanding world of retail. Algoretail was founded in Tel Aviv in 2018 by Ariel Hubara and Shuki Shechter as a cutting-edge AI-powered startup to optimize the whole store processes in real-time.
With Algoretail, the innovation is perceived in every aspect of the store management, from shelf design, product quality, order management, back-store management to highly increased staff efficiency, all in real-time. Algoretail also makes accurate adjustments following anticipated demand, market trends, inventory, etc., to win where it counts.
Algoretail enhances accuracy, productivity, and peace of mind to big stores’ processes thanks to its leading-edge AI tech and real-time perceptiveness. It gradually learns the store’s specific management, day-to-day procedures, and extra aspects to generate detailed business insights to manage better stocking schedules, inventory, and product distribution from the back-store to shelves.
Algoretail claims that its AI-based software has helped many stores reduce waste by 40% and returned products by 35%. It has also increased back-store space up to 25% and staff productivity by 30%, which has boosted the stores’ overall profit margin.
HQ.: Tel Aviv, Israel
Industry: Supply Chain Management
Staff: 11-50
Total Funding: $5M

2. Seez


Seez is currently on the top of the list of most progressive AI startups in the UAE. Founded in 2016 by Andrew Kabrit and Tarek Kabrit, the startup aspired to transform the world of automotive trade utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning.
The Seez mobile app provides car shoppers with a smart search engine for new and used cars and AI-powered tools and services to have an easier, faster, and more efficient trade experience. In fact, Seez is notably changing how auto businesses operate by using AI and big data, and interacting with trusted automotive dealers, manufacturers, and the government.
Seez subscription-based BI tools utilize billions of data elements on car listings, market supply, consumer behavior, pricing, and grey market to render actionable insights for dealers in the Middle East. The Seez app’s algorithms detect and classify the car model from a digital photo, estimate a fair price for that specific model, and crawl used car platforms for live ads of similar cars.
As said by co-founder Tarek Kabrit, the application’s chatbot automatically contacts sellers and negotiates in place of the buyer, providing a 10X larger reach and reducing the time it takes to catch the right car from several days to a few seconds.
HQ.: Dubai, UAE
Industry: E-Commerce
Staff: 11-50
Total Funding: $13.8M

3. Sarwa


Whether you are new to the world of investing or an expert pro, Sarwa does what is best for you and your cash. Using AI-powered algorithms, it helps the ordinary reach their investment goals easier and faster by providing them with a set of services that normally only a multimillionaire could afford.
Sarwa Digital Wealth Limited was founded in 2017 by Jad Sayegh, Mark Chahwan, and Nadine Mezher to make investing in international markets easy and affordable for investors in the GCC region. The platform utilizes smart, cutting-edge technology to rebalance its users’ portfolios based upon market movements and help them reinvest their dividends.
Sarwa is supported by a unified team of supreme financial leaders and the best tech talents who use AI to facilitate time-tested investment plans and create personalized experiences for every specific customer. With Sarwa, users can simply invest in fully diversified portfolios with low-cost index funds depending on their risk profile.
For each financial goal, Sarwa suggests a stock-to-bond allocation of its recommended portfolio strategy. This is designed to exhibit the total world market to enable customers to maximize their anticipated returns while minimizing potential risk. In addition to that, users can choose from two other alternative strategies to comply with their investing beliefs: Sarwa SRI (its socially responsible portfolio strategy) and Sarwa Halal (its sharia-conforming portfolio strategy).
HQ.: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Wealth Management
Staff: 11-50
Total Funding: $24.9M

4. UnitX

UnitX is a flourishing AI-driven startup in Saudi Arabia that has gained invaluable expertise in computer vision, robotics, deep learning, and precision engineering over the past couple of years. It was founded in 2018 by Kiran Narayanan, Ravi Samtaney, and Salman Kattan to enhance safety and security with AI-powered real-time insights from drone video.
UnitX has already launched a DL-powered platform called Vizard that works seamlessly with various off-the-shelf drones, VMS, and CCTV products to deliver real-time insights within seconds. It has a wide range of applications in health and safety and surveillance systems. Vizard’s applications in HSE include monitoring worker falls, PPE compliance, and behavior assessment. In the field of surveillance, it can be utilized for object detection, face recognition, and other image processing purposes.
In July 2021, UniX was picked by “Best Startup Asia” as the first on the list of “Top 24 Saudi Arabian Artificial Intelligence Startups” for its exceptional performance in innovation, growth, management, and societal impact.
UnitX is currently developing its edge-based computer vision platform in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, oil & gas, transportation, construction, etc. Vizard can simply integrate with CCTVs and send real-time alerts to a highly secure and customized dashboard. It can also use drone footages for processing multi-modal data with the help of edge servers.
HQ.: Thuwal, Ha’il, Saudi Arabia
Industry: Computer Vision
Staff: 11-50
Total Funding: $2.1M

5. Votek


As one of the most flourishing AI startups in the region, Votek is a software corporation dedicated to developing innovative solutions based on automated Arabic speech recognition. Founded in 2014 by Lojain Jibawi and Sawsan Saeed, the startup has already raised almost $1 million to develop speech recognition technology for the diverse dialects of Arabic. Its AI-based algorithms are 95% accurate and are constantly trained to detect particular accents.
Votek has progressively customized its engine to be utilized in four domains: governmental apps, customer service apps, a virtual assistant, and smart toys. Votek’s technology is distinct from its competitors’ as it can be used offline with no need to send requests to a server while on an operation.
Votek has also created a set of funny characters that communicate with children through speech recognition. Each character is specialized in one field of science and helps children learn from it in an engaging, fun way. Loujee is also a smart toy that amuses kids in several ways, from playing different games to telling jokes and simple stories.
At TCS Banking Symposium 2020, the startup launched its new Arabic virtual assistant for banks. Votek’s customer service app is also used by Dubai’s Governmental Housing Establishment. The founders intend to improve the toy’s educational content and develop a specific version targeted at autistic children in the future.
HQ.: Dubai, UAE
Industry: Speech Recognition
Staff: 1-10
Total Funding: $1M

6. Training Calendar


This Dubai-based AI-powered startup aspires to revolutionize the future of learning and skill development. Founded in 2016 by Peer Mohaideen Sait, Training Calendar is the world’s first comprehensive platform that brings together the whole stakeholders in the skill training ecosystem.
Since its establishment, Training Calendar has raised $2.1 million to create an inclusive marketplace for online and offline education and skill development. Fresh graduates, working professionals, and students make individual investments in courses to fulfill specific skill requirements and ensure career progression. Besides, HR and L&D managers can identify their staff’s skill gaps, initiate a staff development plan, and allocate customized courses to each employee using AI algorithms.
On the other side, training providers, colleges, and freelance trainers take the opportunity to develop and deliver courses to contribute to individual and corporate skill development. It also enables recruitment professionals to get access to an international pool of proficient individuals with improved skill sets.
The startup is currently offering over 30,000 online courses available by highly reputable providers such as Coursera and Udemy, and nearly 7,000 classroom courses in the UAE, KSA, and India, plus 40 management courses provided by prestigious business schools.
HQ.: Dubai, UAE
Industry: E-learning
Staff: 11-50
Total Funding: $2.1M

AI Startups shape the Future

The startups introduced in this post are just a few examples of the most ground-breaking companies that are contributing a lot to the betterment of people’s lives in the Middle East. Each of these innovative startups has taken a revolutionary approach to the traditional ways of their industries and made a big change in the ecosystem.
Though investing in each of these startups seemed a big concern in the first days of their establishment, it’s proved a rewarding expenditure later on. AI startups are going through multiple rounds of fundraising and promise a tempting ROI ahead. No doubt, AI technology will shape the future much more differently everywhere on the globe, and anyone who’s part of the game will win in the end.


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