The UAE and Bahrain rank among the world's top 100 startup destinations as well as the top two most-preferred ecosystems for startups in the Gulf region.

Globally, the UAE came in at 43rd, while Bahrain jumped 20 places to 75th, according to new study by StartupBlink. Saudi Arabia also improved its ranking by jumping 213 points to rank 281st globally.

The study said the UAE was recognised for the potential of its Arab-speaking market and close involvement of the government in the local startup ecosystem.

A report by Magnitt shows that the UAE remained the most active startup ecosystem in the region with 26 per cent of all deals, followed by Egypt (21 per cent), and Lebanon (13 per cent).

The Magnitt study shows that the number of investments in Mena-based startups was up 31 per cent in 2019, with 564 investments and $704 million in total funding, up 13 per cent compared to 2018, excluding previous mega-deals in Souq and Careem.

In 2019, Egypt, for the first time ever, accounted for the largest number of deals in Mena with a jump of 25 per cent, while the UAE accounted for the lion's share of total funding and a surge of
60 per cent.

Eli David, chiefexecutive officer of StartupBlink, said good startup ecosystems are fundamental. They create jobs, boost the economy, increase tax revenue, improve quality of life and urban innovation, and attract and retain talent. "As an entrepreneur, location will greatly influence the chances your startup will succeed."

David said knowing how well your ecosystem performs is also important. "Corporations use these rankings to make decisions about future expansion, universities and consulting agencies use them for research, and governments and local development organisation use them to gauge how well their programs are paying off."

Pakiza Abdulrahman, manager, Startups at Bahrain Economic Development Board, said picking a startup location is one of the most important choices a founder can make, affecting everything from taxation levels to market access and the cost of doing business.

"Startups coming to Bahrain join a thriving ecosystem that combines pro-enterprise regulation with competitive costs, backed by the support of a government that listens - not to mention our unrivalled access to the $1.5 trillion GCC market," said Abdulrahman.

"We are delighted that the Bahrain approach - and that of the wider Arab region - continues to gain recognition and we look forward to enhancing our support for the startups of tomorrow and today," said Abdulrahman.

Bahrain offers startups an ideal testbed location for new ideas, combining pro-enterprise government policies with an ever-evolving ecosystem and a wide pool of international talent.

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