• The 50 most-funded startups in MENA have raised nearly $3 billion in funding combined.
  • A.E-based cloud-kitchen operator Kitopi tops the list with $804 million in total funding.
  • The U.A.E. dominates the list with 22 startups securing nearly $1.8 billion combined.
  • The fintech sector was the most represented sector, with 13 startups, followed by e-commerce with 11 startups.

Dubai: Forbes Middle East has released its annual list of the “50 Most-Funded Startups In MENA,” highlighting the young businesses that have secured the highest funding rounds in the region. Together, they have raised a total of almost $3 billion in funding, with the top 10 startups raising $1.9 billion combined.

The startups had to have been founded no earlier than 2014 and had to have raised a minimum of $15.5 million in total funding. Startups that were acquired, merged, or went public on stock markets were excluded. Cut off for funding was December 20, 2021.

The list features startups from 9 MENA countries. The U.A.E. appears to have the most active startup ecosystem, with 22 of the 50 startups headquartered in the emirates. Four of the top five startups have their headquarters in the U.A.E. Saudi Arabia is home to 12 startups, Egypt is home to seven, and Kuwait to two. The ranking features 115 cofounders from 31 nationalities, with Egyptians and Saudis taking the lead with 21 and 20 cofounders, respectively.

This year features 30 newcomers to the ranking, including ride-hailing app Yassir and Fintech firm PostPay. Two of the newcomers—Saudi Arabia’s buy-now-pay-later platform Tamara and the U.A.E.’s streaming service STARZPLAY—feature in the top five. Tamara is the highest-funded startup in Saudi Arabia having raised $116 million, while STARZPLAY raised $150 million in total funding.

The most represented sectors are Fintech and e-commerce, with a combined 24 out of 50 entries. The health-tech sector is represented by four startups, including Sehteq and GluCare Health, with a total of $78.6 million in funding. Among the 13 represented sectors, foodtech raised the highest total funding in 2021, with $874.9 million invested in the list’s four foodtech startups.

U.A.E.-based startup Kitopi tops the list after securing $804 million from investors, led by SoftBank Vision Fund 2 and Chimera. Pure Harvest Smart Farms, which topped last year’s list, came in second place, having raised $272 million in funding since its founding in 2017. In October 2021, the agritech startup secured $64.5 million to fuel its expansion plan across the GCC and Asia. Egyptian e-commerce firm MaxAB is the country’s most funded startup with $62.5 million in total funding. 

Click here to view the full ranking of the Top 50 Most-Funded Startups In MENA 2021. 

Top 5 Most-Funded Startups In MENA 2021 

1 Kitopi

Total funding: $804 million

Headquarters: U.A.E.

Established in: 2018 

2 Pure Harvest Smart Farms

Total funding: $272 million

Headquarters: U.A.E.

Established in: 2017 


Total funding: $150 million

Headquarters: U.A.E.

Established in: 2014

4 tabby

Total funding: $130 million

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia, U.A.E.

Established in: 2019 

5 Tamara

Total funding: $116 million

Headquarters: Saudi Arabia

Established in: 2020 

About Forbes Middle East

Forbes Middle East is a licensed edition of Forbes for the Arab world, championing inspiring business journalism and entrepreneurial capitalism. Its online and social platforms break news covering billionaires, business, investment, technology, economy, entrepreneurship, leadership, and luxury lifestyles. The monthly magazine, featuring in-depth interviews with the Middle East’s most influential and innovative leaders, is published in print in English and Arabic, with digital versions available to both regional and global audiences online.

Forbes Middle East extends the Forbes brand of journalism across the Arab world, conducting its own comprehensive research to publish original lists that adhere to strict methodologies. Its content attracts business leaders, investors, active and potential entrepreneurs, and a wide audience of ambitious and influential executives.

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