Dubai and Riyadh have been rated the top cities for startups in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, UK-based communications platform Sortlist said in a new SME report. While the Saudi capital took prime spot in the list of 13 MENA cities, Dubai was ranked in the second position.

Riyadh’s average broadband speed of 94.64 Mbps is higher than most cities, with literacy rates at 95%. Also, it has one of the highest happiness ratings in MENA at 6.49 out of 10 and an electricity cost of just 4.2 p/kWh, which is significantly cheaper than in the UK.  

Dubai, which took the second spot, offers a massive internet download speed of 189.07 Mbps, larger than any city in the UK and MENA on the list.

The report stated that the emirate is perfect for hybrid working and working with international clients and employees. Moreover, fast internet connectivity will boost efficiency in those crucial early stages of a business.

Kuwait City came third due to its exceptional literacy rate of 96% and low electricity cost of 2.5 p/kWh. 

Pairing this with a decent broadband speed of 149.37 Mbps suggested that Kuwait offers a suitable environment for a budding business. However, office rent is slightly high at $376.50 (£333.66) per month, Sortlist stated. 

The report is based on multiple factors, including success rates, average office rental costs, electric prices, population with the most qualifications and broadband speed, to identify top MENA cities where a new business has the highest chance of success. 

According to Sortlist, startups in MENA raised $323.7 million across 66 deals in June 2022, with US investors the most active foreign investors. 

 (Editing by Seban Scaria